27 January 2014

Ocular injury from an electrical burn

From a report in the New England Journal of Medicine:
A 42-year-old male electrician presented to the eye clinic with decreasing vision 4 weeks after an electrical burn of 14,000 V to the left shoulder. His vision in both eyes was limited to perception of hand motions...  Slit-lamp examination showed bilateral stellate anterior subcapsular opacities of the lens... Four months after the injury, the patient underwent cataract extraction and implantation of an intraocular lens, which was followed by improvement in visual acuity to 20/70 in the right eye and 20/400 in the left eye...
This is very interesting.  I wonder how an electrical injury to his shoulder translated into an ocular injury, and why the damage to the lens evolved into that pattern.

Photo credit: Bobby S. Korn, M.D., Ph.D., Don O. Kikkawa, M.D., University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA


  1. Very likely from the arc flash. They say his shoulder was burned, but don't really give enough info.
    Damn that looks bad.


  2. If that is the level his correction stayed at, the damage was not limited to the lens, but that was what could be fixed pronto. If in the future things heal more thoroughly there might be a possibility of making things better, but the eye is so delicate that these things take a long time both to heal and to assess accurately.


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