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June 1975

High Altitude Retinopathy in Mountain Climbers

Author Affiliations

From the John E. Weeks Institute of Ophthalmology, University of Oregon Medical School, Portland.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1975;93(6):404-408. doi:10.1001/archopht.1975.01010020418003

Retinal hemorrhages appear to be a frequent, though often unappreciated, occurrence in unacclimated climbers experiencing prolonged exposure to altitudes above approximately 3,658 meters (12,000 ft), heights frequently attained by American mountaineers. This condition has not received attention in the ophthalmologic literature, though several reports of retinal and vitreous hemorrhages have appeared in nonophthalmologic journals.

Of six surviving members of a climbing expedition of Mt. Aconcagua, four had retinal hemorrhages. Two had permanently disturbed vision with paracentral scotomas plotted on a tangent screen.

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