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Electrical injuries to the eye.


The effect of electric current on the eyes of experimental animals was studied. An apparatus was constructed to allow single and multiple shock exposures from 0 to 600 volts at variable exposure times. The current was measured on a Tectronex Storage Oscilloscope. Mature Dutch rabbits were used as experimental animals. When rabbit eyes were subjected to a current of 500 volts for no less than 250 milliseconds and 400 milliamperes or more, a permanent decrease in the amplitude of the b-wave of the Electroretinogram resulted in some animals. No histological or ophthalmological alterations in the retina, optic nerve or vasculature could be observed using conventional techniques. The cataractogenic properties of electric current were also studied. Most previous observations dealing with this subject utilized a multiple shock technique--something which is unlikely to occur in any accidental exposure. This study focussed on the production of lens changes in rabbit eyes following single exposures of measured electric current. The biomicroscopic characteristics of these changes were described. Minimal lens changes were produced by single shock exposures ranging from 6 to 26 watts per second while typical electrical anterior subcapsular cataracts were produced by current of 23 to 80 watts per second. Exposure times were mostly 250 milliseconds or less since the survival rate of animals subjected to longer exposures made such studies unfeasible. Three patients with electrical injuries were presented and some of the pertinent literature was reviewed.

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