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  • Writer's pictureEast Yorkshire Eye Surgery

Cataracts and Christmas Trees

Did you know that there is such a thing as a Christmas Tree Cataract?

For such small organs the eyes certainly can throw up a huge wealth of pathology, leading to some extremely interesting signs and diagnoses. Some of these signs can be quite spectacular and quite beautiful to look at, either due to colour, shape or pattern.

I thought I would share a few of the names of these with you today, and in the spirit of Christmas they are all festive themed! You can easily find images associated with each condition on an internet search, and I have included a link underneath each condition for your convenience. I hope this gives you some insight into both the beauty and complexity of the eye.

Christmas Tree Cataract

This type of cataract is quite rare and may be related to age or certain health conditions. On visualisation they appear as highly reflective, multicoloured crystals in the lens of the eye that appear to change colour. This gives the appearance of the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

Snowflake Cataract

This type of cataract occurs due to the formation of white opacities in the lens of the eye, giving the appearance of a snowflake. They are more commonly found in patients who have diabetes.

Frosted Branch Angiitis

This is a very rare condition that affects the retina and is associated with certain inflammatory conditions. The examining ophthalmologist will observe white exudate (fluid) surrounding the blood vessels in the retina (the thin, light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). As the vessels branch out like a tree, this phenomenon gives the appearance of frost covering branches.

Protect your eyes and enjoy your mince pies!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. Just before I go…

Tips to avoid festive eye injuries…

Please take care putting up your Christmas trees and garlands, the branches and/or needles can cause painful eye injuries. Also, watch out for those flying champagne corks or fireworks during the celebrations! When buying gifts, particularly for children, think carefully before buying anything that fires, shoots or that can be thrown. There is no fun in spending Christmas Day in Eye Casualty.

If you are thinking of buying any of the above, or for the DIY enthusiast, gardener or trades person in your life, how about giving the gift of eye protection?

It never fails to astound me when I see people undertaking activities where there is a reasonably high risk of foreign bodies such as dust, sand or debris, entering their eye. Chemical eye injuries from liquids such as oven or drain cleaners or powder are also commonly seen in eye casualty. Safety goggles can save your sight, and they are inexpensive, so I think they would be a fantastic stocking filler or Secret Santa this year!

Take care


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