By: Tanya Lewis
Published: April 15, 2015 11:22am ET on LiveScience.
Being struck by lightning is a rare event, and it can have some equally unusual medical effects.
For one 77-year-old woman who survived being hit by an indirect lightning strike while sitting in her car, those effects included losing her vision in one eye, according to a new report of her case.
This photograph reveals the swelling (black arrow) near the macular hole in the woman’s right eye caused by a lightning strike.
An exam revealed that the strike tore a tiny hole in the woman’s macula, which is the part of the eye that is critical for high-acuity vision.
The woman’s case reveals the importance of checking the vision of anyone who is struck by a bolt, researchers said in their report, published March 31 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. [16 Oddest Medical Cases]
“In the future, if patients are struck by lightning, it should be a routine process to refer them to an ophthalmologist to have an eye assessment,” said study co-author Dr. Permesh Dhillon, an ophthalmologist at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, England.
The woman’s injury wasn’t diagnosed right away. When the lightning bolt struck the woman’s car, she suffered some back pain, and her hairdresser later noticed minor burns on the woman’s scalp. Later that day, the woman reported, the vision in her right eye was blurred, and she could barely see with that eye, though it was not painful, Dhillon said.
A few days later, when the woman visited her optician, she was referred to Dhillon and his colleagues, who scanned the patient’s retina using a relatively new technique known as optimal coherence tomography (OCT). They found the hole in the woman’s macula, a part of the retina that is responsible for about 90 percent of vision,