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Andreas Schatz, Gabriel Willmann, M Dominik Fischer, Kai Schommer, Andre Messias, Eberhart Zrenner, Karl-Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt, Florian Gekeler; Electroretinographic assessment of retinal function at high altitude. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):5120.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Retinal hypoxia constitutes an important and well-studied pathology in many potentially blinding retinal diseases. But little is known about the effect of high altitude hypoxia on retinal function of healthy subjects. The aim of the current study was to investigate retinal function at high altitude hypoxia. This work is related to the Tübingen High Altitude Ophthalmology (THAO) project.
Electroretinography (ERG) was performed on 14 subjects in Tübingen (341 m) and at high altitude at the Capanna Margherita (4559 m) using a Ganzfeld ERG. Extended ERG protocols were used to estimate retinal function on cellular level. Oxygen saturation, heart rate and scores of acute mountain sickness (AMS-C) were ascertained. A paired t-test (p<0.05) was used for comparison between baseline and high altitude measurements. ERG parameters were correlated to oxygen saturation, heart rate and scores of acute mountain sickness using calculation of Pearson’s correlation coefficients.
Significant differences of the maximum response for the rod sensitivity function (Naka and Rushton), the b-wave amplitude and implicit times of a- and b-wave amplitudes of mixed rod-cone responses were detected between high altitude and baseline. The a-wave slope was significantly lower during high altitude. The photopic ERG revealed an impairment of the photopic negative response and the i-wave. The strongest significant correlation was found for rod b-wave amplitude and heart rate (r=0.65; p<0.05). However, only photopic b-wave implicit time (10 cd.s/m2) correlated with severity of acute mountain sickness (r=0.57; p<0.05).
High altitude hypoxia induced a functional impairment of inner, outer and ganglion cell layers. Interestingly, most of the functional impairment was detected in a subset of ERG parameters related to rod-cone interaction.
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