Electric cataracts can occur if an electric current comes in contact with an individual’s skull or a location near their eye. However, their formation is likely to begin within 6 months of the incident, according to research published in Acta Ophthalmologica. Electrical injuries are not correlated with the development of cataracts later in life, the study shows.
Investigators reviewed records spanning 19 years from patients with electrical injuries from 2 Danish registries (N=14,112). Patients were found either via the Danish National Patient Registry (DNPR, n=13,317), which covers all hospital contacts in Denmark, and the Danish Working Environment Authority (DWEA, n=795), which maintains a registry of workplace-related injuries. The investigators evaluated them to determine whether patients who had experienced an electrical injury would be more likely to develop cataracts earlier in life than controls who did not experience an electrical injury..
The analysis identified 67.9% of injuries reported in the DNPR required less than 1 day stays at the hospital, while 56.4% of the injuries reported to the DWEA resulted in outpatient care or had missing information. From the DNPR cohort, 37 individuals (1%) were diagnosed with cataracts 5 years following injury, and 122 (5.1%) were diagnosed by the end of the study. From the DWEA cohort, 4.3% were diagnosed with cataract 5 years following injury and 8.3% by the conclusion of the study.
“We did not find an increased incidence of cataract following electrical injuries compared [with] controls,” researchers report. “The lack of association was consistent, from within 6 months following the injury to throughout the entire study period.”
The reporting and coding of accidents in the DNPR and DWEA has changed throughout the years, leading to underreporting and limiting the accurate collection of data on electrical injuries for this study. Also, the DNPR limits documentation of accidents to hospital visits only, not including ophthalmology visits and possibly missing reports of cataracts. Another limitation is the control cohort consisting of age and sex matched peers, which the researchers found difficult because of the heterogeneity between groups.
“Routine cataract screening is not supported by our analysis,” according to the report “It may be that previous case studies and patient group studies do not distinguish sufficiently between electric shocks near the eye and other electrical injuries.”
Kærgaard A, Nielsen KJ, Carstensen O, & Biering K. Electric injury and the long-term risk of cataract: a prospect matched cohort study. Acta Ophthalmol. Published online July 27, 2022. doi:10.1111/aos.15220.