Lasik and high altitude climbing

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T Sharp

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Lasik and high altitude climbing

by T Sharp » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:10 am

Does any one have personal or a friend, or a friend of a friend experience with lasik vision correction in relation to high altitude >14,000` mountaineering? Links, and or articles would be appreciated too!

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by radson » Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:01 am

Medicine for Mountaineering 2010, p 150

"Though more investigation is needed on LAS IK and PRK treated eyes at altitude, these procedures appear to be excellent options. A recent study on Mount Everest of a small number of climbers who had undergone LASIK found relatively stable refraction compared to those wearing contact lenses. All the climbers retained excellent vision at base camp (17.6k) Five of six reported no visual changes up to 26.4k ft. Two climbers reported slight changes at 27k ft and 28.5k ft that improved with descent. Three of the six experienced no changes up to the summit 29k ft........this suggests LASIK is an excellent and stable option for refractive correction."

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by Scott » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:22 am

I got my lasik in January 2000. It was probably the best investment I ever made.

Since then I've been to dozens and dozens of mountains of elevations between 14,000-21,000 feet and haven't had any problems.

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by chasegru » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:06 pm

Summary: Altitude (over 16,000') can mess with your vision if you haven't had surgery--so a large controlled experiment is difficult to set up. No distinct high risk from Lasik identified yet. Bring eyedrops to keep your corneal flap moist.

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by Diggler » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:38 pm

I had terrible vision before I had Lasik performed a number of years ago. Within a year (or was it 2? Not more than 2, at any rate) I'd summited Aconcagua with no problems. I'll second Scott's opinion- best investment I've ever made.

Find out the success/satisfaction rate of the particular doctor you're interested in- they should be able to provide ample clients. If not, do some sleuthing online. Be skeptical if you can't find either. I for one would not go for the "buy 1 eye Lasik, get the other free."

You should be able to get a free consultation with the doctor beforehand too, where they'll give you their opinion on whether or not you're suited for the procedure, cost, payment plan, etc.

There was an article in Climbing 5 or 10 years back that summarized the procedure well, with respect to climbers. If you give 'em a call, they should be able to tell you which issue.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.

Good luck!

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by kevin trieu » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:04 pm

I got Lasik about 5 years ago and have done half a dozen 6,000m peaks after with no problems. Best decision I have made.

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by mrchad9 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:07 am

Same here. I got Lasik in 2003 (or thereabouts) and went to 19000 ft in 2006, no issues at all.

(except for waiting for my gf to put in her contacts every mornning)

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by peninsula » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:21 pm

I have suffered moderately severe myopia since grade school. Only hard contact lenses provided sharp far-away vision, soft contacts did not do the trick. I have studied corrective eye surgeries for years and have a background in surgery myself. My problem with LASIK and PRK is that permanent, irreversible tissue modifications underly the procedures; in the case of LASIK, tissue is being removed! Also, these corneal modifications can result in less than ultra-clear, sharp vision, what some would call "high definition" vision. For myself, hard contacts provided HD vision, but a the cost of discomfort in windy and/or dusty conditions, not to mention the hassel of caring for contacts while in the mountains.

My recommendation for moderately to severely myopic individuals (-4 or worse) is to seriously consider implantable contact lenses (ICL). I underwent ICL 18 months ago, and I only wish I had done it sooner. The negatives: ICL will not correct astigmatism (there is a new implantable lens that will correct astigmatism and was pending FDA approval at the time of my procedure) and one does not have the option of monocular vision. With ICL, altitude is not an issue, and this procedure is reversible without significant tissue destruction. Most importantly, the results are consistently crystal clear high definition vision, good enough that the procedure is approved for fighter pilots.

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by hurdler » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:43 am

Does anyone have any experience with prescription glacier glasses/lenses? Good/bad?

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Re: Lasik and high altitude climbing

by Bruno » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:30 am

hurdler wrote:Does anyone have any experience with prescription glacier glasses/lenses? Good/bad?

I do have two kind of glacier glasses.

One is a conventional glacier glasses frame (Cebe), with tainted corrective lenses (cat. 4), made in a good optical shop. The other one is the Adidas model, with conventional uncorrected cat. 4 lenses and an internal prescription glass that you clip on the frame. I like both of them and never had any kind of problem in many years, even at high altitude with high solar radiation or rough conditions.

In the past, with not enough money to afford corrective glacier glasses, I just used standard glacier glasses on top of my medical glasses. That was not only painful for ears and nose (due to the pressure of the frame), but the side protection was also very poor and I often ended with painful red eyes. I think it is worth the investment to get prescription glacier glasses if you use them regularly (beside mountaineering, I also use them for cycling touring).

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