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Intraocular pressure changes during high-altitude acclimatization

  • Mitrofanis PavlidisEmail author
  • Tobias Stupp
  • Ilias Georgalas
  • Evi Georgiadou
  • Michail Moschos
  • Solon Thanos
Clinical Investigation

Abstract

Background

To evaluate the relationship between hypobaric hypoxia acclimatization and intraocular pressure (IOP) during ascent, acclimatization, and descent between 2286 m and 5050 m.

Methods

The following acclimatization-indicative physiological parameters were compared daily with IOP changes in eight healthy climbers of the 2003 Greek Karakorum expedition in altitude stages between 500 m and 5050 m: hemoglobin oxygen saturation (PO2), resting heart rate, blood pressure, retinal findings, and the Lake Louise score for acclimatization grading.

Results

IOP decreased significantly in the ascent phase (0.58 mmHg/100 m) and recovered (0.71 mmHg/100 m) during acclimatization and descent. A direct proportional correlation between decreases in PO2 and IOP was evaluated. Arterial blood pulse and pressure increased during acclimatization, while IOP decreased. No retinal hemorrhages were observed in well-acclimatized and incompletely acclimatized climbers.

Conclusions

Every new active exposure to hypobaric hypoxia in the ascent phase induced a decrease in the IOP parallel to the PO2 decrease and to the level of acclimatization. The results from our study suggest that IOP changes are related to hypoxia-induced respiratory alkalosis and acclimatization stage, which could be used as a simple mobile screening test for acclimatization level to reveal acute mountain sickness and its severe consequences.

Keywords

Intraocular pressure High altitude Acclimatization 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitrofanis Pavlidis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias Stupp
    • 1
  • Ilias Georgalas
    • 2
  • Evi Georgiadou
    • 3
  • Michail Moschos
    • 3
  • Solon Thanos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental OphthalmologyUniversity Eye Hospital of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS TrustLondonUK
  3. 3.University Eye Hospital of AthensAthensGreece

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