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Retinal vessels leak during high altitude exposure

Date:
June 5, 2013
Source:
American Medical Association (AMA)
Summary:
Exposure to high altitude can cause acute mountain sickness (AMS) and, in severe cases, cerebral or pulmonary edema. Capillary leakage has been hypothesized to play a role in the pathogenesis of AMS, although the mechanism of altitude-related illnesses remains largely unknown.

"Exposure to high altitude can cause acute mountain sickness (AMS) and, in severe cases, cerebral or pulmonary edema. Capillary leakage has been hypothesized to play a role in the pathogenesis of AMS, although the mechanism of altitude-related illnesses remains largely unknown," writes Gabriel Willmann, M.D., of the University of Tubingen, Germany, and colleagues. "Vessel leakage in the retinal periphery has not been investigated. Our objective was to assess retinal vessel integrity at high altitude using fluorescein angiography."

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As reported in a Researcher Letter, the study included 14 healthy, unacclimatized volunteers (7 male and 7 female participants, average age, 35 years) who were studied at baseline (1,119 feet), after ascent to 14,957 feet within 24 hours, and more than 14 days after return by fluorescein angiography. Photographs were independently graded in random order by 4 ophthalmologists for presence and location of leakage.

Retinal abnormalities were not noted at baseline in any of the participants. At high altitude, marked bilateral leakage of peripheral retinal vessels was observed in 7 of 14 participants (50 percent). All findings completely reversed after descent. "Retinal capillary leakage should be considered a part of the spectrum of high-altitude retinopathy," the authors write.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Medical Association (AMA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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American Medical Association (AMA). "Retinal vessels leak during high altitude exposure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605085906.htm>.
American Medical Association (AMA). (2013, June 5). Retinal vessels leak during high altitude exposure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605085906.htm
American Medical Association (AMA). "Retinal vessels leak during high altitude exposure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605085906.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

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