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I Got a Contact Lens Stuck to My Eyeball and Almost Went Blind


Neal Lynch contact lens bloodshot eyes

Neal Lynch contact lens bloodshot eyes

Doctors found a lost 28-year-old contact lens in a woman’s eyelid. It reminded me of the time I got a contact lens stuck to my eyeball and almost went blind.

I used to wear contacts. Probably still should but I don’t. Because I’m a bad boy 4 lyfe. I didn’t wear contacts in high school but when I was on the mound in college, I couldn’t see signs from the catcher. So, I got contacts. There’s no worse time to get introduced to contacts than when you’re in college. You simply don’t take care of yourself in college, so welcoming a process that requires careful attention into the fold is a recipe for pinkeye.

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I don’t know what the hell I was doing or thinking when I first got my contacts but it sure as shit wasn’t paying attention to the eye doctor trying to impart very valuable wisdom about eyecare. While Dr. Retina was doling out nuggets like “Do not sleep in these. Make sure to wash them daily. Be careful around smoke”, I was probably wondering what Lindsay Lohan’s nips look like.

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Anyway, I loved wearing contacts because I could actually see again. I would end up hating contacts because they fooled me into thinking A) I’m not THAT drunk and B) I’m not even wearing contacts. We’ve all been there, Neal. You’re not special. We’ve all awakened from our slumber after a night out drinking at the bars and had to take out our contacts. NBD. Well, not like this, friend.

Ya see, there was a time when people were allowed to smoke in bars. Yes. I know. It seems like a fever dream. But, it was theeeeeeeeeeee worst.

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Despite my one attempt to puff Gramma’s cig, I’m not a smoker. You might catch me smoking a heater after a billion beers but that’s it. Being a non-smoker in a contained space with nothing but cig smoke was hellacious.

I’d go out to the bars, get burnt by a billion embers and come home REEKING like smoke. It got to the point where my dad had to buy air purifiers for every room of the house. The morning-after shower would serve a serious whiff of what I’d been through the night before and I’d wonder how anyone could’ve talked to me for more than 5 seconds without hurling.

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But, the worst part of going to bars pre-smoking-ban was the smoke would secretly slide into my eyeballs and become one with my contacts. I’d go home, fall face first into my bed and trap clouds upon clouds of smoke in ocular cavities. Then I’d wake up and have the bloodshottiest of bloodshot eyes.

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I can’t tell you how many times I had to go to an important event the day after “sleeping” in my contacts and have everyone at said event think I’m a raging stoner or complete degenerate. Not ONCE did someone say, “Sleep in your contacts?” Nope. Never. It was always, “Rough night?” or “Been hittin’ the bong?” or “Hail Satan?”

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I don’t think I could handle someone telling me the number of times I woke up with a raging case of bloodshot eyes / pinkeye because my contacts still in. An objective third-party would probably call for a series of tests to determine if I have full mental capacity. Like, should Neal be receiving disability checks?

One time, it was two years after I’d graduated. I was going to a baseball team reunion. I really wanted to impress my coach since I was a scorching hot mess when I played for him. I wanted to show him that I had my shit together. Then, I got torched the night before, slept in my contacts, and showed up late with fireballs for eyes.

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It was January 2005. I was living in an apartment complex in the southwest section of Hoboken that we residents called “Melrose Place without the Pool”. The building looked nothing like Melrose Place but all the residents in the building were singles (or single-ish) in their 20s. We liked to party and, as 20-something singles often do, hook up with each other. No shortage of drama or juicy goss flowing through those abodes.

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I’d moved into the complex in September 2004 shortly after starting my first full-time salary job. I was exceptionally psyched to be ‘on my own’ but also to make very dumb decisions with little to no retribution. That meant smoking in my room and not having Gramma tongue-lash me for stealing her secret pack. Newsflash, Gram – it’s not a secret when it’s hiding in plain view by the spoons. RIP, Helen. I miss you.

There were four apartments in this complex. Each apartment had the exact same layout – 4 “bedrooms” upstairs. Living room, dining room, and kitchen downstairs. We all shared a driveway and a hallway. It felt like the best floor of a co-ed college dorm. You could rage worry-free.

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In my apartment, there was another guy (a very Italian man who was unintentionally funny) and two ladies. One lady had a boyfriend and was vegan and didn’t really party so we never really got to hang out with her. Pretty sure she loathed us. The other lady was and is a good friend to this day even though I moved out after a year (it honestly felt like 5). There were two ladies and a lad on one side of us, a guy and a girl on the other side, and a bunch of dudes on the far end.

For the Jets-Steelers divisional round game (first game of that weekend), we went to a dive bar in NYC’s West Village. Many pitchers and wings later, we rolled out to this jam…

…courtesy of my ringtone. Got back to the apartment and roused the neighbors. We were in full-on party mode and wanted to share the wealth. Someone mixed drinks that shouldn’t be mixed and someone else broke out cigars. No clue why. It’s possible we were celebrating something. It definitely wasn’t football. Football was merely the gateway drug.

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The Falcons-Rams divisional round playoff game is on. We’re bouncing from apartment to apartment. Mixed drinks that shouldn’t be mixed. Cigars. The rest of the night is a blur. I might’ve picked up a girl in a fireman’s carry then helicoptered her until she got a bloody nose from the spinning. Or that might’ve been the super bowl weeks later.

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I wake up on Sunday and I can barely open my eyes. First thought is “DAMMIT, I DID IT AGAIN!” I went to the bathroom and tried to take out my contacts. The first contact was STAPLED to my eyeball. I, honest to God, had to RIP the lens off my eyeball. It sounded like velcro or tearing up a piece of paper. After several pokes at the other eye, I couldn’t find the second lens. The light was unbearable. Like a thousand knives diving into my peepers.

It was so bad that I had to put on sunglasses. My future was not bright… at all… but I needed dem shades. I came downstairs to my roommates and some neighbors in the living room watching the Vikings-Eagles game. Everything and everyone stopped. The TV somehow paused itself. We didn’t have TiVo. A moment of silence passed (probably for the death of my vision) followed by a lot of loud laughter.

Hey, Ray! Ray Charles sighting!

Hey, Stevie Wonder! Seen anything lately?

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I begrudgingly chuckle it off and sit in the only seat available – the one directly next to the TV. I’m legit not kidding when I say that my eyes — even with sunglasses on — couldn’t take the glow of the light from the screen. I don’t remember much from that game. The only memory my melon has been able to hold onto was the Johnny Rockets we got delivered.

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You’d think that shit would clear up. But nooooope. Woke up Monday morning and had to call out of work. I still couldn’t see. Still couldn’t really open my eyelids. I got dressed. Which… I dare you to get dressed blind. I felt my way out of my bedroom, down the stairs, and slowly inched down the stoop and out to the street.

I called a cab and proceeded to hail EVERYTHING that went by me. Garbage truck, Ferrari, a kid on a bike. They all flew past a 24-year-old man-child in mismatched socks and shoes, stained corduroys with a broken zipper, and a ripped sweatshirt that was on backward.

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Eventually, a taxi found me and took me to the nearest hospital. The doctor saw me and was a mixture of flabbergasted and aghast. Flaghasted. “You’re lucky you’re not blind”.

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She then proceeded to use a pair of tweezers to go in the back of my eye socket and rip off the second lens. It was like the equivalent of tearing off the first layer of skin on your entire body. I could hear that circular section of my eyeball gasping for air like it had been submerged underwater or had been electro-shocked back from the dead.

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The doctor then gave me this magical miracle liquid that soothed the savage inferno mine eyes had been engulfed in.

I’d love to sit here and tell you that I learned my lesson. That I took care of my eyes and my contacts. I didn’t. It never got worse than that moment but I still slept in my contacts. The difference is I didn’t shove a cigar’s worth of toxins into my sightseers and the smoking ban kicked in! Seriously, if smoking were still allowed in bars, I’d look like a pissed off Storm from X-Men and be forced to become an oracle or Deadpool’s roommate.

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The woman who had a 28-year-old contact lens in her eye? You have to save that lens, right? Put it in a glass box and plant it on the mantle. Bring it up at every damn party. Sell it to a museum. Turn your house into a museum. More importantly, our top scientists need to study this woman. She either has the patience of 10,000 saints or isn’t human.

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