Eye Health Problems & High Altitude

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eye Health Problems & High Altitude

Have you ever been concerned about your eye health at high altitude? Sometimes patients who spend a great deal of time in high altitudes-skiing, mountain climbing or even just touring- are concerned about the effects on their eyes, especially if they have some other eye problems or diseases related to hypoxia or not enough oxygen. Researchers from the Tübingen High Altitude Ophthalmology (THAO) reporting in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science examined the effect of high altitude on the cornea and on the drainage angle of the eye-a key anatomical landmark for predicting narrow angle glaucoma risk. Using the advanced imaging technique of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) they studied corneal thickness changes and the depth and shape of the “anterior chamber angle” to determine the effects of high altitude. In normal healthy eyes, they found that a significant degree of reversible corneal swelling occurred with increasing altitude but no effect was noted on the size or shape of the eye fluid drainage angle. Since the corneal swelling was reversible it was not damaging. However, for patients with corneal dystrophy problems such as Fuchs Dystrophy or any endothelial dystrophy or compromise there may be some delay in the “deswelling” of the cornea. For patients who might be at risk for narrow angle glaucoma, the researchers reported that no change in angle depth or shape occurred at the higher altitudes-and thus there was no increase in angle closure glaucoma risk.

If you or someone you know is concerned about high altitude related eye problems,  please come in and see us at Baltimore Washington Eye Center by calling 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter.

Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice with office locations at 200 Hospital Drive, Suite 600, Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061 and River Hill Professional Center, 6100 Day Long Lane, Suite 207, Clarksville, Maryland 21029, serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area.