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15 Contact Lens Horror Stories That Will Make You Say 'Yikes!'

Sit down, gird your loins and refrain from any heavy meals. What you’re about to read is disturbing.




MOST OF YOU likely have one. Remembering it ruins your day, runs a shiver up your spine and keeps you up at night. We’re talking contact lens horror stories. Like that woman in the U.K. who had 27 contact lenses removed from her eye. Or that guy who last bought a six-month supply in 2002 and just. Ran. Out! We asked our readers for their worst stories and their advice on how to convert these hooligans into compliant users.

  • Had a guy wear his contact trials that another office gave him for a year! And I mean a complete year without removing them or cleaning them. When he came to see us, the lens was brown, his eye was so damaged with blood vessels, scars, etc., and he had to pull off part of his cornea to get it off. His obvious next question: “When can I go back to wearing my contacts?” When I said “Never,” he was livid and refused to return! — Nytarsha T., Zionsville, IN
  • Guy comes in for yearly exam, says that about six months ago, his right contact lens fell out and that he has been seeing perfect ever since, so he didn’t put another one in that eye. Doctor says, “Well, that’s because the lens is still in your eye.” Guy was so embarrassed. Fortunately, he had no complications and remains a patient, that was over 15 years ago and we laugh about it now. Also, had a very smart local attorney who came in complaining of poor vision and his eye feeling “uncomfortable for a couple of weeks now …” He had two lenses in one eye. Did I say, “smart attorney?” — Billy I., Florence, SC
  • Patient who wore her mother’s Rx for three years and came in to complain she could not see. — BJ C., McQueeney, TX
  • New contact lens wearer … “See you in a week for follow up.” Comes back one year later. So, you didn’t like the contacts? Love them! Still wearing the same pair. More education and scary pics of what can happen. He’s loyal now. LOL — Cynthia S., Lewis Center, OH
  • We just had a patient tell us he was still wearing the same trials we gave him last year. We gave him a set of one-month contacts and five-day supply of dailies. This year he wanted to buy because he loved them so much. Yuck! — Nicole L., San Antonio, TX
  • Teenager came in with large corneal ulcer from putting her contact lens back in her eye after it fell out onto the ground at Cedar Point Amusement Park. She rinsed it off in a water fountain! — Scott K., Dover, OH
  • When I was first learning how to do a contact lens I&R class, I had the unfortunate experience of watching a very elderly man attempt to learn to remove his contacts for a good while. He was squeezing his eyes so hard I was convinced he was going to pop it or something. They were a shade of red I’d never seen in anyone’s eyes before in my life (at the time). — Tiffany F., Jenison, MI
  • We had a woman who had the same pair of Acuvue 2 trial lenses we had given her five years prior. She had never taken them out. We also had a woman who bought color contacts, illegally, at a beauty supply store. She had never worn contacts before, nor had she been taught how to take them in and out. She came to us two months later to get them out of her eyes. They had left a permanent blue ring around the outside of her iris from the color of the lens. These people are very hard to convert. We can tell them horror stories of possibly losing their sight or causing permanent damage, but it doesn’t always help. I have to admit, people are cheap when it comes to their eyes. — Deanna P., Clemmons, NC
  • We routinely have patients that buy online ask for trials because their order has not come yet and they are out of lenses. Their Rx changes and they want credit for lenses they bought online because online won’t take them back. We explain that we can only help if they actually bought the lenses from us. — Bob M., Edina, MN
  • Patient had Acuvue 2 lenses in for four years. Never took them out. I would not give her more and she was beyond pissed. — Ivy F., New Castle, PA
  • A girl came up to put in her contacts after her appointment. It dropped on the table and she immediately put it in her mouth to “clean it off.” After picking my jaw off the table, I instructed her that she should never do that again, and had an in-depth conversation about germs in a person’s mouth. Ewww. — Frances L., Valdosta, GA
  • The doctor had a patient who wore rigid CLs and got into a wreck and was in a coma for six months. They were unaware of her CLs and the doctor was the one to remove them when she came in after waking from her coma. — Lindsey P., Manhattan KS
  • A woman came in and wanted to exchange her contacts she bought somewhere else. — Steve G., Milwaukee, WI
  • Just recently we had a patient come in after avoiding his exam for more than two years. He purchased a year supply (online!) after his initial CEE, and when he came in this year he was still wearing contact lenses, no other CL request noted. When asked how old his [AVO] lenses were, he stated he wears them for about three months. In these situations, our doctor loves the analogy that you can always leave your house/car unlocked and be fine, until the one time you’re not. If they’re really not compliant, the doctor will educate them on their risk of never being able to wear contacts again if they keep it up. — Selena J., West Des Moines, IA

And a bonus “Yuck!” …

  • We haven’t had a retained contact lens, but we did have a gal that came in for mysterious eye inflammation. She was retaining pockets of cat fur under her eyelids! She volunteered, “Maybe, I shouldn’t let my six cats sleep around my pillows?” Our tactic for our CL abusers: Doctor tells them the story of a patient who experienced a nightmare before receiving eyecare at our practice. Under another provider, he had been abusing his CLs, got an ulcer, wound up in the hospital, and ultimately lost his eye and racked up a $100,000 hospital bill. That one always shocks people into being (at least vocally) more compliant. “Trust me, it saves you money in the long run to change your contacts!” — Jen H., Sandpoint, ID

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