What happens to intraocular pressure at high altitude?

J. E A Somner, Daniel S. Morris, Kirsten M. Scott, I. J C MacCormick, Peter Aspinall, Baljean Dhillon

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    Abstract

    PURPOSE. To investigate changes of intraocular pressure on ascent to high altitude. METHODS. The Apex 2 medical research expedition provided the opportunity to measure intraocular pressure (IOP) and central corneal thickness (CCT) in 76 healthy lowlanders. They all arrived in La Paz, Bolivia (altitude, 3700 m), where they spent 4 days before being driven more than 2 hours to the Cosmic Physics Laboratory at Chacaltaya (5200 m) where they stayed for 7 days. IOP and CCT were measured with a handheld tonometer and ultrasound pachymetry on the first, third, and seventh days at 5200 m. Pre- and postexpedition CCT and postexpedition IOP readings at sea-level were also measured. RESULTS. IOP increased significantly from baseline after acute exposure to altitude before returning to baseline with time. IOP at baseline, change in IOP from baseline, and IOP at altitude did not predict symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) or development of high-altitude retinopathy (HAR). CONCLUSIONS. Acute exposure to altitude caused a statistically significant but clinically insignificant increase in IOP. This finding may be partially explained by the change in CCT. IOP returned to baseline levels and possibly lower with prolonged exposure to altitude. Changes in IOP at altitude are not predictive of symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) or development of high-altitude retinopathy (HAR). Copyright © Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1622-1626
    Number of pages5
    JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
    Volume48
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

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    Somner, J. E. A., Morris, D. S., Scott, K. M., MacCormick, I. J. C., Aspinall, P., & Dhillon, B. (2007). What happens to intraocular pressure at high altitude? Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 48(4), 1622-1626. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.06-1238