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November 16, 1984

Use of Contact Lenses on Mountaineering Expeditions

Author Affiliations

St Anthony Hospital Systems Denver

JAMA. 1984;252(19):2701. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350190011007

To the Editor.—  Daytime use only of contact lenses on mountaineering expeditions is not practical because hand washing is next to impossible, carrying cleansing and storing solutions is inconvenient, and stored soft lenses can freeze. The use of eyeglasses on mountaineering expeditions is also somewhat impractical because they tend to fog up during climbing and multiple pairs must be carried, including one with darkly tinted lenses and side protectors to prevent snow blindness. The development of highly oxygen-permeable, extended-wear soft contact lenses has been followed with a great deal of interest among high-altitude mountaineers who wear eyeglasses. We report the successful use of extendedwear contact lenses to the summit of an 8,000-m (26,240-ft) peak.The limiting factor in the use of continuous-wear contact lenses at high altitude is the oxygen permeability of the lens, since, at sleep, the cornea is oxygenated by diffusion from the palpebral capillaries. It has been