A Punch To The Face Left A Man Starry Eyed Literally

October 11, 2019

An Indian man who took a punch to the left side of his face during a brawl may have temporarily seen stars. But when the 36-year-old sought medical attention two days after the brawl, it was his ophthalmologist who saw stars – that is, the man developed a star-shaped cataract in his left eye, according to the latest report on his case.

According to the case, published online Nov. 28 in the journal BMJ Case Reports, the man developed what’s known as a “rosette cataract” in his left eye. This means the cataract, or clouding of the eye’s lens, has a star-shaped or flower-like appearance.

According to the National Eye Institute, cataracts are more common in older people because as people age, proteins found in the eye’s lens can collect and blur vision. But when a young person develops cataracts, it’s usually because the person has suffered some kind of physical injury to the eye or head.

Dr. Rohan Singh, lead author of the case report, said that while treating the man at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, India, he was involved in a boxing match where he was punched around the left temple of his face, rather than directly in the eye. Singh is currently a fellow in corneal immunology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston.

Singh told Live Science that the man developed rosaceous cataracts because of the physical impact of the blow to the face, which sent shockwaves through the bones in his temple and into his left eye. These shockwaves disrupted the usual arrangement of fibers or proteins in the lens, he said, eventually causing the lens to become “opaque” or cloudy, turning it into a rose or star pattern.

A very rare occurrence.
Rosy cataracts, especially those that form in the first few days after trauma, are very rare, Singh said. In this man’s case, his first symptoms, including redness, pain and progressively worse vision in his left eye, began six to seven hours after his face was buckled.

Over the next two days, it became increasingly difficult to see out of his left eye, so he visited the eye clinic at his local hospital. Doctors performed a special examination of his eye and found a rosette cataract with five distinct “petals” in his lens. (Singh told Live Science that rosette cataracts with as many as 10 “petals” have been reported in the medical literature).

However, this cataract isn’t visible to the naked eye – you need special equipment to see it, Singh said, so the man didn’t know it existed until he went to the doctor. However, people with rosette cataracts are aware that there is a problem even if they can’t see it because they experience pain and blurred vision in the affected eye.

Singh noted that if the man had not sought medical attention, his cataracts would have continued to grow. Because of the cataract’s location in the man’s eye, it would have eventually caused more symptoms, including vision loss and sensitivity to bright light, he noted.

To treat the man’s eye, his surgeon performed surgery to remove the cataract and implant a new lens. A week after the surgery, he again had 20/20 vision in his left eye.