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Social storms

This week OT  went viral – in the nicest possible way...

20 Jul 2017 by John White

It all started innocuously last week.

An ophthalmology team had reported an unusual case involving a cataract procedure, which had been published in the British Medical Journal.

Struck by the case, in which a number of contact lenses were discovered in a 67-year-old woman's eye pre-surgery, OT's clinical editor Ceri Smith Jaynes, shared it with the OT team – who in turn tracked down one of the authors for an interview.

"It was such a large mass," specialist trainee ophthalmologist, Rupal Morjaria, told Selina Powell. "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."

Not good, but what's the big deal, right? As always, the devil is in the detail – in this case, that no less than 27 contact lenses were recovered from the patient's eye.

Having shared the story on our social media channels, we have over the last week seen the story shared over 7000 times and reach over 1.5 million 'interactions' on Twitter. The story online has been viewed over 400,000 times.

Meanwhile, news agencies across the globe have covered the story. Everyone from The Washington Post to the Sydney Morning Herald has been fascinated by the tale.

For Ms Morjaria, reporting the case was important to highlight to clinicians that it was possible to retain so many contact lenses without being symptomatic. However, the public health message was key too.

“In this day and age, when it is so easy to purchase contact lenses online, people become lax about having regular check ups,” the ophthalmologist explained.

And, working with BBC News on their online report, OT's Ceri Smith-Jaynes was on hand again to reiterate those all-important top tips for contact lens users, and point readers to the AOP’s resources for patients.

This story has captured the world's imagination – largely, I suspect, because of the ‘yuck’ factor. (I noticed on Twitter the story was categorised as "weird"). While the story might serve to act as a deterrent to wearing contact lenses to the more cautious, it has highlighted the constant need for robust advice to make sure the millions of satisfied contact lens wearers continue to wear their lenses safely.

Image credit: Rupal Morjaria