Doctor Finds 23 Contact Lenses Under Patient’s Eyelid


Girl changes the lenses to improve vision. | Image by Koldunov, Shutterstock

When an elderly patient started popping contact lenses off her head like a winning Las Vegas slot machine spilling out quarters, Dr. Katerina Kurteeva of Newport, California was not exactly sure what she was witnessing.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Kurteeva said. “All the contacts were hidden underneath the upper lid in a pancake stack, so to speak,” Today reports.

Kurteeva, a doctor at California Eye Associates, said she was surprised to unearth the clump of contacts and removed them from the eye of an unidentified woman in her 70s who asked to remain nameless.


Kurteeva documented the eye-popping event last month on her Instagram page, according to Today.

The story likely makes some wonder how a person could push 23 contacts into one eye and not remember or be bothered by them. However, the contacts retrieved by Kurteeva are four short of a similar incident in the UK in 2017, according to Optometry Today.

Doctors there found 27 contact lenses in a 67-year-old woman who complained of dry eye and chalked her irritation up to aging. The 67-year-old had been using disposable contact lenses for 35 years, reports The BMJ.

Kurteeva’s patient did not know what had happened, but the doctor had some ideas. She said the patient possibly believed she removed the lenses by sliding them off to the side, but actually didn’t take them out. The contacts just kept hiding under the upper lid.

“Nothing can ever travel to the back of your eye without retrieval, it’s not like it’s going to your brain,” Kurteeva said in regards to the fornix, the “eyelid pocket,” which can become very deep in older patients.

The woman did not notice the clump until it was significant because the contact lenses were so deep and far from the cornea, the eye’s most sensitive part. Kurteeva added that long-term contact wearers lose corneal sensitivity, which could also explain why the patient did not notice the blob.

Kurteeva began by inspecting her eye for corneal ulcers and conjunctivitis. She searched her right cornea for an eyelash or pet hair, makeup, or dust that could be causing the scratchy sensation, but she found none. She noticed mucus.

Kurteeva inverted the woman’s eyelid, but again, found nothing.

She used a lid speculum to keep the woman’s eyelids open and far apart, freeing her hands for a more thorough examination. Kurteeva gave a yellow-staining anesthetic drop and found the first two contacts stuck together under the eyelid, but the cotton swab only removed the tip of the blob.

“It was literally like a deck of cards,” she told Today. “It just kind of unraveled and formed a little chain link on her lid. As I’m doing it, I’m telling her, ‘I think I removed more than 10.’ And they just kept on coming and coming.”

Kurteeva said the woman is determined to keep using contacts following the mishap. The doctor recently saw the patient and reported that she is doing well.

She advises that patients wash their hands before handling contact lenses and suggests that they remove contacts when brushing their teeth so that they do not forget to take them out.      


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