Cataracts for Christmas?

Christmas Tree Cataracts  

 

A Christmas tree cataract is a relatively rare form of opacity seen in the crystalline lens. It can occur in one eye or in both eyes each with their own unique pattern. It is characterized by needle-shaped polychromatic deposits deep in the cortex and nucleus of the lens. While these cataracts are often not visually significant, they can progress and impair vision  

The nomenclature ‘Christmas tree cataract’ is due to the typically red and green color seen in  the opacity, however the colors seen vary depending on the angle of incident light. For this reason it is very difficult to document, as the flash from a camera will distort the image of the actual formation. Imaging without a flash is preferred if possible.  

Cataracts are most commonly associated with aging, but other risk factors include UV-B radiation, smoking, medications (particularly steroids), and trauma. In addition, intraocular surgery, ocular inflammation, other eye diseases and systemic diseases (diabetes, hypocalcaemia, myotonic dystrophy [Christmas tree cataract], Wilson’s disease [sunflower cataract], atopic dermatitis [anterior sub capsular cataract], neurofibromatosis type 2 [posterior sub capsular  cataract]) can cause cataracts.  

Cataract surgery is recommended when visual symptoms interfere with the ability to perform daily activities and or the patient seeks better vision to improve their quality of life. This is variable depending on each patient's individual needs.  

Complications that arise and are cause for cataract surgery include lens-induced glaucoma or uveitis, and when the cataract interferes with examination or treatment of other ocular disorders (i.e., diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration).  

Happy Holidays everyone, Stay safe, happy and healthy this Holiday season 

Author
Domenico Rinaldi, OD Dr. Rinaldi received a BA in Biology from Whittier College and went on to receive a doctorate in Optometry from the Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Rinaldi completed his rotations at Ocular disease intense sites, including several Local Veteran Hospitals (LA ambulatory and Long beach VAs), and has worked with Ophthalmology co-managements helping to diagnose Retinal detachments, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-Related Macular Degeneration, his studies and interest are in ocular health and vision preservation. Dr. Rinaldi strives to make every patient's experience fantastic. "Patient satisfaction and education is the most important aspect of my office visits, I believe it is important that my patients understand how their eyes function and walk away feeling empowered to protect the health/clarity of their vision."

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