London - Anyone who wears contact lenses knows how tricky they are to find if you drop them.
But a woman who lost one in a badminton game as a teenager has discovered it under her own eyelid – 28 years later.
The lens had remained there after being dislodged when a shuttlecock hit her in the face when she was 14.
The woman, who comes from Dundee but has not been named, assumed it had fallen out – unaware that it was simply stuck beneath her eyelid for almost three decades.
It left her with a slightly droopy eyelid, which she put down to the accident, and in time – unbeknownst to her – the lens became enveloped in a cyst.
However she was stunned to discover the truth after she went to her GP this year after the previously benign swelling flared up.
Ophthalmologists at Ninewells Hospital did an MRI scan after the woman was referred there by her GP. They noted that her left upper eyelid was swollen and it drooped – a condition known as ptosis.
The scan showed an 8mm-wide growth, which they assumed was a run-of-the-mill cyst.
But when surgeons removed the lump it ruptured, revealing the contact – a hard type known as a rigid gas permeable lens, or RGP.
Doctors Sirjhun Patel, Lai-Ling Tan, and Helen Murgatroyd say that although contact lenses sometimes become lodged around the eye, having been stuck there for more than a quarter of a century makes this example a record. Writing in the British Medical Journal, they told how the mystery of the missing lens was solved, adding: ‘On questioning, the patient’s mother recalled a blunt trauma to the upper left eyelid as a child – the patient was hit in the left eye with a shuttlecock while playing badminton at 14.
‘The patient was wearing a contact lens at the time, which was never found. It was assumed that the contact lens dislodged out of the eye and was lost.
‘However, it can be inferred that the lens migrated into the eyelid and resided there.
‘During surgery, an encapsulated cyst was found. On removal, the cyst ruptured and a hard contact lens was extracted.
‘The foreign body was extremely fragile. It was later confirmed that this was an RGP lens. We can infer that the lens migrated into the patient’s left upper eyelid at the time of trauma and had been in situ for 28 years.’
The team added: ‘The migration of a 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 exhibits the longest time between traumatic RGP lens migration into the eyelid and presentation of swelling. The patient never wore RGP lenses following this incident.’
The woman has since made a full recovery.