Doctors Remove Contact Lens Woman Lost 28 Years Ago, from Behind Her Eyelid

A 42-year old woman who thought her contact lens had fallen off when she was hit in the eye with a shuttlecock 28 years ago recently discovered that it had actually been lodged in her eyelid all this time.

Those of us who no longer have perfect vision understand just how amazing and convenient contact lenses can be, especially when it comes to an active lifestyle. But in some cases, instead of making our lives easier, they can cause annoyances. In very rare cases, those annoyances go beyond dry eyes or eye infections—they can actually become embedded in your eyelid, all without you knowing it.

Photo: Lucashawranke

That’s what happened to a 42-year-old woman from Dundee, in Scotland, who recently went to her doctor to have her left upper eyelid checked out, after it had become swollen and drooping about six months ago. She was then referred to eye specialists Sirjhun Patel, Lai-Ling Tan, and Helen Murgatroyd at Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, who ran a number of tests on what they thought was nothing more than an ordinary cyst

An MRI confirmed a 6 millimeter wide cyst, so they went ahead and scheduled surgery to remove it. However, once they cut into the area, the cyst ruptured revealing a foreign object. It appeared to be extremely fragile so the doctors had to be very careful removing it. After carefully inspecting the object, doctors confirmed that it was an  RGP (Rigid Gas Permeable) lens.

“During excisional surgery, an encapsulated cyst was found within the soft tissue superior to the superior fornix,” the doctors wrote in a paper published in the medical journal BMJ. “There were no signs to suggest previous injury to the eyelid or tarsus. On removal, the cyst ruptured and a hard contact lens was extracted. The foreign body was extremely fragile on removal and handling. It was later confirmed that this was an RGP lens.”

But here is where things get even stranger. The woman insisted that she hadn’t worn that type of contact lens for decades, and had no idea how it could’ve gotten into her eye. However, during questioning, the woman’s mother remembered that she had been an avid badminton player as a teenager and had once been hit by a shuttlecock in her left eye. 


Photo: Nieuw-commonswiki/Wikimedia Commons

“The patient was hit in the left eye with a shuttlecock while playing badminton at the age of 14. The patient was wearing an RGP contact lens at the time, which was never found. It was assumed that the contact lens dislodged out of the eye and was lost,” doctors wrote in their paper.

Although there was initially some swelling at the site of injury (which is natural, given the circumstances), it quickly went down; besides the appearance of a droopy eyelid (ptosis), the patient and her family had perfect reason to believe that everything was fine, and that the ptosis was of minor inconvenience.

Over the next 28 years, the contact lens migrated into the woman’s eyelid and nestled itself there; surprisingly, it caused virtually no symptoms (aside from the ptosis) until just last year. What started out as a pea-sized lump 6 months ago rapidly turned into a bigger cyst that was painful to the touch. It was only because of the pain and swelling that the patient decided to seek medical care, which then uncovered the long-lost contact lens.

But don’t let this story scare you into swapping your contact lenses for glasses or LASIK. Before you panic, you should keep in mind that such occurrences are exceptionally rare. In fact, there have only been four other reported cases of lens migration from trauma to the eye. 

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