High altitude activities sometimes pose a bit of concern to those who might be at risk for certain eye problems such as corneal swelling problems and angle closure glaucoma. 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, 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 a question about their risk of eye problems such as corneal swelling and angle closure glaucoma at high altitude, please feel free to call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at 219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center or facebook.com/nwindianaeyeandlaser.
Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 522 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.