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Electric Burns at Work Cause Starry Eyes


Posted on Jan 25, 2014

One man’s work injury has caused him to develop a unique condition. He faced electrical burns that resulted in star shaped cataracts in his eyes.

NBC news reports on the rare condition.

An electrician suffered a serious work injury that caused electricity to run all through out his body. The man is only forty-two years old.

The electricity caused cataracts in the shape of stars to form in his eyes.  NBC explains the accident, “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.”

The man is experiencing serious vision problems. His doctor states, "The optic nerve is similar to any wire that conducts electricity. In this case, the extreme current and voltage that passed through this important natural wire caused damage to the optic nerve itself. The man has striking cataracts in both of his eyes; they are star-shaped. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. The man had surgery four months after the accident but his vision only improved slightly. The damage to his optic nerve limited his sight.”

The man’s physicians say it is unknown why patients get star-shaped cataracts. They also explained why this patient’s case is particularly serious, “The eye is like a camera: If the lens is damaged, it can be replaced with a new one, but if the "film" — in this case, the optic nerve and retina — is damaged, then you'll never get a good picture.” The man’s case was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine this month. He still has poor vision in both eyes but travels via public transportation and is taking community college classes with the help of an assistant at this time.

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