Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Electric Shock Causes Bizarre Eye Damage

An electrician's eyes were damaged, leaving star-shaped cataracts after he received a tremendous shock from a work-related incident in California. The 42-year-old electrician's left shoulder contacted 14,000 volts of electricity, according to a report. The current passed through his entire body, including the optical nerve.

It’s what you’d expect when your favorite cartoon character gets electrocuted, but not a real man: jumping in the air, body convulsions, drooling, and stars in their eyes.

But in a case reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, a 42-year old electrician in California developed star-shaped cataracts in his eyes after being shocked by 14,000 volts of electricity while on the job. The case was featured because of the images of the eye damage.

The man's left shoulder came into contact with 14,000 volts of electricity, and an electric current passed through his entire body, including the optic nerve — the nerve that connects the back of the eye to the brain. A retinal detachment eventually developed.

"The optic nerve is similar to any wire that conducts electricity," said Dr. Bobby Korn, an associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, who treated the patient. "In this case, the extreme current and voltage that passed through this important natural wire caused damage to the optic nerve itself."

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of your eye. People who have cataracts usually view the world as if they’re looking through a severely fogged up window. Though it normally develops slowly, eventually it impacts people’s eyesight.

Symptoms of cataracts include clouded vision, sensitivity to light, seeing halos around lights, and double vision in a single eye. Most cataracts develop either as part of the aging process, or as a result of an injury like the one reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery to remove the cataracts from the eye and implant a new lens.

The electrician underwent cataract extraction and implantation of an interocular lens, which was followed by improvement in visual acuity to 20/400, but he could only count fingers. Although legally blind, he is now able to independently commute on public transportation.