Dr. Katerina Kurteeva said she had never seen anything like it before.
Kurteeva, an ophthalmologist with California Eye Associates in Newport Beach, said a patient came into her office complaining of eye pain and blurred vision. She ran through the typical list of diagnoses: a scratched cornea, some type of infection or even lodged debris.
What she found were 23 contact lenses lodged inside the woman’s right eye.
“In nearly 20 years of practice, I had never seen anything like it,” Kurteeva said in an essay for Insider.
Kurteeva used a Q-tip to gently peel the lenses apart, “like you would deal a stack of cards,” she said in the story. One by one, a chain of contact lenses began pouring out of the patient’s eye. There were so many lenses removed, that at one point, the patient asked Kurteeva if she was still keeping count of them, she said.
A photo and video of the removal, recorded by Kurteeva’s assistant, was posted on the California Eye Associates Instagram page and has since gone viral, garnering more than 3 million views.
“It almost looked like a second pupil. I gently started using a Q-tip to peel the lenses apart one by one, like you would deal a deck of cards,” Kurteeva said in the story. “They were coming out in a chain, drooping down her lid. There were a lot of contact lenses — I thought this could be my Guinness Book of World Record moment.”
While she’s unsure how exactly her patient forgot to remove nearly a month’s worth of contact lenses from her eye, one possible culprit is that the patient may have become desensitized to the feeling of contacts. This is caused by wearing them over so many years — and is typical for frequent contact lens wearers, Kurteeva said.
Kurteeva said the woman was “very fortunate” not to have caused severe damage to her eye, or worse, had permanent vision loss.
“I feel really lucky to have captured this on video to remind people to remove their contact lenses every single night,” Kurteeva said in the story. “This was a happy ending, but it could have gone sour really quickly.”