High Altitude Eye Health Problems

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

High Altitude Eye Health Problems

“Our Fairfield County community has lots of residents who are very active outdoors people,” commented Leslie Doctor, M.D. “Patients who spend a great deal of time in high altitudes-skiing, mountain climbing or even just touring-sometimes express concern about the effects on their eyes, especially if they have some other eye problems or diseases related to hypoxia or not enough oxygen,” she said. Have you ever been concerned about your eye health at high altitude?

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, 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 has questions or concerns about eye health problems at high altitude feel free to schedule an eye exam at Doctor & Associates-203-227-4113, visit Doctor & Associates in Fairfield County or facebook.com/doctorandassociates to schedule an appointment.

Doctor & Associates is a leading Fairfield County Connecticut eye care practice with offices at 129 Kings Highway North, Westport, Connecticut 06880, 195 Danbury Road, Wilton, Connecticut 06897 and 148 East Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06851.