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