The last thing you'd expect to happen when visiting a doctor to investigate a pain in your eyes is for them to tell you that the problem is down to a 28-year-old contact lens.
Amazingly that's exactly what happened to a 42-year-old woman who wanted to get her upper eyelid checked out due to it becoming painful and swollen.
The doctor discovered that it was a cyst about 8mm in size but after operating on in it, he discovered that inside the blister was a rigid gas-permeable contact lens, the type of which the woman hadn't worn in 28 years.
The case which was published in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, states that the pea-sized lump was just below her left eyebrow and grew over the course of six months.
Soon it was visible on an MRI scan at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland and eventually caused her eyelid to droop and become painful whenever it was touched.
When the lens was discovered the doctors found that it was still perfectly intact and had become encased in tissue but it eventually cracked when removed.
The report of the study states:
A patient presented with left upper eyelid swelling and ptosis. The MRI reported a cyst with proteinaceous content. On surgical excision of the cyst, a rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lens was found.
The RGP lens was encapsulated within the upper eyelid soft tissue. It was later revealed that the patient experienced childhood trauma while wearing RGP contact lenses 28 years previously.
The patient assumed that the RGP lens fell out and was lost; however, it can be inferred that the lens migrated into the eyelid and resided there asymptomatically for 28 years.
After it was revealed what the cause of the pain was the woman was said to be confused but her mother then recalled an incident when she was 14, where a shuttlecock hit her in the eye when playing badminton.
The lens was never found and although the injury was treated with care, as the lens was never retrieved it was presumed that it had been lost or flown out of her eye.
The woman, who has not been named, did wear rigid contact lenses at the time but hasn't since. Gas-permeable contact lenses are made of rigid, durable plastic that transmits oxygen and is unlike the soft lenses, which are common today.
Despite the lens being removed without any problems, experts are said to be baffled as to how the object could have remained in the eyelid for nearly 30 years and only just started to cause pain and swelling and that there were no "elicited triggers" that could've caused the symptoms to start.
The researchers add:
The migration of a rigid gas permeable (RGP) lens into the eyelid is a rare cause of eyelid swelling.
Spontaneous migration of a hard contact lens into the eyelid is a relatively known occurrence, but we were only able to find four reported cases of lens migration secondary to significant trauma.
This case report exhibits the longest time between traumatic RGP lens migration into the eyelid and presentation of eyelid swelling.
If you thought this story was bad wait till you hear about the woman who had 27 contact lenses stuck in her eye.