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Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2014 Jan;1(1):59-63. doi: 10.1002/acn3.18. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Missing correlation of retinal vessel diameter with high-altitude headache.

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Centre for Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany.
Centre for Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany ; Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom.
Department of Sports Medicine, Medical Clinic, University Hospital Heidelberg Heidelberg, Germany.
Centre for Ophthalmology, University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany ; Department of Ophthalmology, Katharinenhospital Stuttgart, Germany.


The most common altitude-related symptom, high-altitude headache (HAH), has recently been suggested to originate from restricted cerebral venous drainage in the presence of increased inflow caused by hypoxia. In support of this novel hypothesis, retinal venous distension was shown to correlate with the degree of HAH. We quantified for the first time retinal vessel diameter changes at 4559 m using infrared fundus images obtained from a state of the art Spectralis™ HRA+OCT with a semiautomatic VesselMap 1® software. High-altitude exposure resulted in altered arterial and venous diameter changes at high altitude, however, independent of headache burden.

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