High-altitude retinopathy after climbing mount aconcagua in a group of experienced climbers

Tsung Yu Ho, Wei Fong Kao, Shui Mei Lee, Po Kang Lin, Jin Jong Chen, Jorn Hon Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Visual disturbances after high-altitude exposure were first reported in 1969. Manifestations may include retinal hemorrhage, papilledema, and vitreous hemorrhage. Methods: We observed a group of 6 experienced climbers who ascended Mt Aconcagua to an altitude of 6,962 m in February 2007. Visual acuity study, intraocular pressure study, visual field study, nerve fiber layer analysis, eye Doppler, laboratory studies, fundus photography, and intravenous fluorescein angiography were performed on the climbers before and after their exposures to high altitude. Results: In all six study subjects, retinal vascular engorgement and tortuosity were present in varying degrees in both eyes. One of the climbers had both retinal hemorrhage and pulmonary edema. Of the two subjects who had visual field defects, one had severe nerve fiber layer defects of both eyes. Furthermore, laboratory studies of this climber showed a high level of antiphospholipid antibody. Significant reduction of the left ocular blood flow was also noted on this subject's eye Doppler examination after the Mt Aconcagua expedition. Conclusion: Various high-altitude retinopathies were observed in the experienced climbers of this study. As high-altitude pursuits become more popular, attention should be paid to the increasing prevalence of high-altitude retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1650-1655
Number of pages6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • antiphospholipid syndrome
  • highaltitude retinopathy
  • nerve fiber layer defect
  • retinal hemorrhage
  • visual field defect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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