A new report from a group of UK medical professionals offers a good reminder to make sure you've taken out your old contact lenses before putting in new ones: A woman who thought she just had cataracts actually had 27 lenses in one of her eyes, NPR reports. Doctors were prepping her for cataract surgery, injecting anesthesia, when they found and removed the lenses. The woman, said to be in her mid-60s, hadn't complained of eye irritation, but she explained after the contacts were removed that "she thought her previous discomfort was just part of old age and dry eye," one specialist trainee ophthalmologist tells Britain's Optometry Today.
"When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses, she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable," she adds. The cataract surgery was delayed so that bacteria that had accumulated in part of the eye could clear. The report, published in the British Medical Journal, could offer a warning not only to contact-wearing patients who go long stretches without eye exams, but to optometrists as well, since the clump of lenses hadn't caused an obvious infection. If such an incident did lead to an infection, a person could lose her sight, the specialist trainee warns. In this woman's case, doctors say her "deep-set eyes" could be part of the reason so many contacts—which were bound together by mucus, per Time—could have accumulated without notice.