Retinal artery occlusion (RAO) is an ophthalmological emergency that causes a major decrease of visual parameters in most of the cases. Purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the effect of adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) on visual acuity (VA).
Patients and methods: Patients with acute central or branch artery occlusion (CRAO/BRAO) consecutively admitted to our hospital were offered adjunctive HBO. Standard therapy consisted of ocular massage for 3 minutes, paracentesis and intravenous acetazolamide. HBO (3 x 30 minutes at 240 kPa) was applied t.i.d. on the first day, b.i.d. on day 2 and 3 and o.d. for at least another 4 days. Patients who refused HBO or had contraindications served as controls. VA was measured according to the guidelines of ETDRS. The follow up was 3 months.
Results: HBO: 8 patients with CRAO showed a mean increase in VA of 1 line, 4 of 8 patients had an increase of 2 lines and more, in 3 of 8 patients VA was unchanged and one patient suffered a decrease of 6 lines. 10 patients with BRAO showed a mean increase in VA of 8 lines, 8 of 10 patients showed an mean increase of 2 and more lines, in 2 of 10 patients VA was unchanged.
Controls: 8 Patients with CRAO had a mean increase of 2 lines during follow up, 3 of 8 patients showed an increase of 2 lines and more, in 5 of 8 patients VA was unchanged. 6 patients with BRAO had a mean increase of VA of 4 lines, 3 of 6 patients had an increase of 2 lines and more, one patient lost 3 lines and in 2 patients VA was unchanged. The results are compared to the literature.
Conclusions: HBO seems to be beneficial for VA in eyes with BRAO. Further investigations are necessary to prove this observation.