Electrocution leaves stars in man's eyes

13:00 AEST Sat Jan 25 2014
An electrician from the US was literally left with stars in his eyes after being shocked in a workplace accident nearly 10 years ago.
The unusual star-shaped scars formed after the man was electrocuted by 14,000 volts (New England Journal of Medicine).

An electrician from the US was literally left with stars in his eyes after being shocked in a workplace accident nearly 10 years ago.

The 42-year-old Californian man was hit with 14,000 volts of electricity, entering through his shoulder and coursing through his entire body, including his optical nerves, which connect the eyes to the brain.

The extreme whack of voltage and current caused the star-shaped cataract scars to form in the man's eyes, according to a new report on the incident published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Bobby Korn, who treated the man after the accident, said while the optical nerves are the same as any wire that conducts electricity, the reason these unusual scars sometimes form is not fully understood.

"In this case, the extreme current and voltage that passed through this important natural wire caused damage to the optic nerve itself," Dr Korn said.

In animal studies, when electricity damages an eye lens small bubbles called vacuoles form on the outside of the lens which then form together as the star-shaped cataracts, Dr Korn said.

The professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of California in San Diego likened the eye's lens to that of a camera which, if damaged, will "never get a good picture".

The electrician underwent surgery four months after the accident, implanting new lenses which gave him a slight improvement.

But 10 years on he still has poor vision both eyes but he is able to use public transport and attends courses at a community college.

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