Reported in the January 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a cataract in the shape of stars appeared in the eyes of a 42-year-old Californian electrician, after thousands of volts of electricity passed throughout his body. This is one of two reported incidences. Last year another man in Austria also experienced the odd phenomenon, the star appearing in his cataract after getting punched in the face.
For the unfortunate Californian, 14,000 volts passed through his entire body after the electricity came in contact with his left shoulder. The current also passed through what is called the optic nerve, which connects the brain to the back of the eye. Dr. Bobby Korn, who the patient was treated by, compared the optic nerve to a wire that conducts electricity. The unfortunate optic nerve damage is what caused the star.
It is still not understood why cataracts can form into the shape of a star. In animals, Korn said, electricity damage to the lens of the eye appears as vacuoles on the outer part of the eye, which looks like bubbles. Following this, they would coalesce into a star-shape.
This reports comes at a great time as Spider-man will face off against Electro in this years The Amazing-Spider Man 2. The villain, previously an electrician, gains his powers after an on the job accident also . Fortunately, for this 42-year-old man and the residents of California he doesn’t glow blue and become a terrifying evil.
The patient was evaluated four weeks following the incident, where the star-shaped cataracts was revealed. Korn explains the cataract as lens clouding in the eye. The man would proceed to have surgery by replacing the cataracts with new and improved lens. His vision would see some improvement, but the optic nerve damage could not be fixed, and thus it limited his sight, Korn said.
Korn made the analogy of a camera: a lens can be taken out for a new one, but not the camera’s film, in the instance of the Californian, the nerve of the optic. As a result, “you’ll never get a good picture,” said Korn.
This report comes a decade later where, according to updates, the man’s vision has not improved, but ht is still able to travel by transit and go to school with assistance.
However, this is one of two incidences reported, with star-shaped cataracts appearing in an Austrian man. The 55-year-old last year in May went to a doctor to get his eye checked out after his vision started to deteriorate over a half-year period. The patient had been punched in the face nine months previous according to the doctors who checked him out.
“Nature has made a beautiful cataract,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, the New York Rangers eye surgeon and an ophthalmologist in New York City, “Most aren’t so pretty.”
Fromer said any kind of impact can cause cataracts to form in the eye. When struck, shock waves are sent by the blow through the eye disrupting the lens of the eye, and thus turning it into an opaque tone.
Doctors were able to treat the Austrian with sound waves to break up the opaque part of the lens, and then they used a vacuum to remove it. An artificial lens would then be put in to replace the old lens. According to Discovery news, the cataract is the most popular part of the body where doctors do surgeries on around the world, with 2 million annual procedures done in the U.S.
Star-shaped cataracts appearing in people’s eyes are most likely common occurrences, according to the two incidences and how easily they got it. Though interesting looking, they are not exactly great for vision, which is why it is important to be careful around electricity and of ones eyes!
By Kollin Lore