Pupillary light reaction during high altitude exposure.
Schultheiss M., Schommer K., Schatz A., Wilhelm B., Peters T., Fischer MD., Zrenner E., Bartz-Schmidt KU., Gekeler F., Willmann G.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to quantify the pupillary light reaction during high altitude exposure using the state of the art Compact Integrated Pupillograph (CIP) and to investigate a potential correlation of altered pupil reaction with severity of acute mountain sickness (AMS). This work is related to the Tübingen High Altitude Ophthalmology (THAO) study. METHODS: Parameters of pupil dynamics (initial diameter, amplitude, relative amplitude, latency, constriction velocity) were quantified in 14 healthy volunteers at baseline (341 m) and high altitude (4559 m) over several days using the CIP. Scores of AMS, peripheral oxygen saturation and heart rate were assessed for respective correlations with pupil dynamics. For statistical analysis JMP was used and data are shown in terms of intra-individual normalized values (value during exposure/value at baseline) and the 95% confidence interval for each time point. RESULTS: During high altitude exposure the initial diameter size was significantly reduced (p<0.05). In contrast, the amplitude, the relative amplitude and the contraction velocity of the light reaction were significantly increased (p<0.05) on all days measured at high altitude. The latency did not show any significant differences at high altitude compared to baseline recordings. Changes in pupil parameters did not correlate with scores of AMS. CONCLUSIONS: Key parameters of the pupillary light reaction are significantly altered at high altitude. We hypothesize that high altitude hypoxia itself as well as known side effects of high altitude exposure such as fatigue or exhaustion after ascent may account for an altered pupillogram. Interestingly, none of these changes are related to AMS.