Contact lenses can be annoying. But poking yourself in the eye for the third time in one morning has nothing on this woman from the UK who ended up with a contact lens embedded in her eyelid for nearly 30 years.

The 42-year-old had a slightly swollen and droopy eye for six months before finally being referred to the Department of Ophthalmology in NHS Tayside, in the town of Dundee in Scotland.

When the doctors, Sirjhun Patel, Lai-Ling Tan, and Helen Murgatroyd conducted an MRI to see what had happened, they found a small cyst around 6 millimetres in diameter. They organised a surgery to have it removed.

"During excisional surgery, an encapsulated cyst was found within the soft tissue superior to the superior fornix," the researchers explained in the paper.

"There were no signs to suggest previous injury to the eyelid or tarsus. On removal, the cyst ruptured and a hard contact lens was extracted."

"The foreign body was extremely fragile on removal and handling. It was later confirmed that this was an RGP (Rigid Gas Permeable) lens," the researchers added.

28 year old contact lens(Sirjhun Patel/BMJ Case Reports)

But here's the thing – the woman had not worn hard contact lenses like the one found in her eye for decades. To start with, she had no idea where the lens might have come from.

"On further questioning, the patient's mother recalled that the patient had a history of blunt trauma to the upper left eyelid as a child," the researchers explained.

"The patient was hit in the left eye with a shuttlecock while playing badminton at the age of 14. The patient was wearing an RGP contact lens at the time, which was never found. It was assumed that the contact lens dislodged out of the eye and was lost."

But instead, it appears to have got stuck in her eyelid. For 28 years. That contact lens pretty much owned the place at that point.

At the time, the researchers note, there had been some swelling, but it went down not long after - and the family really had no reason to suspect the lens was still in the eye.

The patient hadn't worn hard contact lenses since, so the team inferred it was that fateful game of badminton that caused this lodgement.

Before you start trying to remember all of the contact lenses you've ever lost in your life, note that this is an extremely rare occurrence, and also didn't cause the patient much discomfort.

Instead, the researchers note it's a good reason for ophthalmologists to check for these kinds of things after eye trauma. Otherwise, you might just end up in a case report 28 years later.

The research was published in BMJ Case Reports.

A version of this story was first published in August 2018.