A 67-year-old woman reported to Solihull Hospital in the UK for a routine cataract surgery. She had been experiencing some discomfort, telling the surgeons she thought it was just dry eye and changes related to getting older, but the doctors found a different cause. When they examined her, they found 27 soft contact lenses stuck in her right eye.

As reported by KPRC Click 2 Houston, the surgeons spotted a “bluish mass” under the upper eyelid of the patient’s right eye that turned out to be a group of soft contact lenses that were stuck together.

Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee in ophthalmology and author of a paper discussing the case, said, “None of us have ever seen this before.”

He went on to say, “It was such a large mass. All the… contact lenses were stuck together. We were really surprised that the patient didn’t notice it because it would cause quite a lot of irritation while it was sitting there.”

As reported by CNN, the consultant anesthetist working at the hospital first noticed the mass as he was numbing the patient’s eye for the surgery.

The first clump that was removed consisted of 17 lenses, and an additional 10 lenses were found after a supplementary examination.

Her left eye did not have any lenses stuck under the lid, possibly due to the fact that her left eye had a lower prescription

The patient said she was unaware that the contact lenses were missing. She had worn disposable soft contact lenses for a period of 35 years, but it is not known when each lens became stuck.

During a discussion with the surgeons, the woman admitted that she occasionally went to remove a lens, but couldn’t find it. She assumed it must have been dropped somewhere.

Morjaria was unaware if the woman had any previous optometry appointments since the clump had developed, though assumes it was unlikely she had. He hopes the discovery can help raise awareness of the potential risks associated with wearing contact lenses without regular professional check-ups.

He recommends that if contact lens wearers experience a “funny sensation in the eye” that they should be checked by an optometrist.

The woman’s cataract surgery was immediately postponed once the discovery was made. Morjaria stated, “Because she harbored these contact lenses in her eye for an unknown length of time, if we had operated, she would have had a lot of bacteria around her conjunctiva.”

She was able to return two weeks after the lenses were removed and have the originally scheduled procedure.