There’s a reason your optometrist looks stern when they talk about contact lens care. It’s serious stuff, people. There’s risk of infection, blurred vision, even blindness, and then there are horror stories like this.
A case documented this month in the British Medical Journal reported the terrifying potential of a lens remaining in the eye for an extended period of time – 28 years to be exact.
The unnamed woman reported to her doctor with a swollen and drooping left eyelid, which MRI scans revealed to be an ovoid-shaped cyst roughly 8mm long. When surgeons later extracted the cyst, the outer lining ruptured to reveal an “extremely fragile” hard contact lens within.
A contact lens that the 42-year-old Brit thought she’d lost during a game of badminton almost three decades earlier.
As Dr Sirjhun Patel wrote, "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 (Rigid Gas Permeable) contact lens at the time, which was never found.
"It was assumed that the contact lens dislodged out of the eye and was lost."
The woman hadn't worn RGP lenses since the accident, leading doctors to conclude that the swelling caused by the injury forced the lens to "migrate" into her eyelid. Precisely why so long had passed before the migrated lens caused any inflammation remains unclear.
Thankfully, the chances of any of this occurring are relatively rare. In the BMJ article, doctors said they found just four past cases of “lens migration” due to trauma.
Still, it's probably worthwhile taking extra caution next time you have a hit of the ol' shuttlecock. Just in case.