Although eyes are not frequently injured in the mountains, they are exposed to many adverse factors from the environment. This article, intended for first responders, paramedics, physicians, and mountaineers, is the consensus opinion of the International Commission for Mountain Emergency Medicine (ICAR-MEDCOM). Its aim is to give practical advice on the management of eye problems in mountainous and remote areas. Snow blindness and minor injuries, such as conjunctival and corneal foreign bodies, could immobilize a person and put him or her at risk of other injuries. Blunt or penetrating trauma can result in the loss of sight in the eye; this may be preventable if the injury is managed properly. In almost all cases of severe eye trauma, protecting the eye and arranging an immediate evacuation are necessary. The most common eye problems, however, are due to ultraviolet light and high altitude. People wearing contact lenses and with previous history of eye diseases are more vulnerable. Any sight-threatening eye problem or unexplained visual loss at high altitude necessitates descent. Wearing appropriate eye protection, such as sunglasses with sidepieces and goggles with polarized or photochromic lenses, could prevent most of the common eye problems in mountaineering.
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Vol. 20 • No. 2