The ascent of Mount Everest following laser in situ keratomileusis

J Refract Surg. Jan-Feb 2003;19(1):48-51.


Purpose: To report the visual experiences of climbers with prior laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) for myopia at extreme altitudes, including the summit of Mount Everest.

Methods: We measured the visual acuity of 12 LASIK eyes of 6 Mount Everest climbers at base camp (17,600 ft). Results are reported on their subjective visual experiences, as all climbers ascended above 26,000 feet and four reached the 29,035-foot summit.

Results: Five of the six climbers reported no visual changes up to 26,400 feet. Three climbers noted no problems and perfect vision with their LASIK eyes on the summit of Mount Everest. One reported mild blurring with ascent above altitudes of 16,000 feet that improved with descent, or a prolonged stay at altitude. Two climbers reported blurred vision at 27,000 and 28,500 feet, respectively, which improved with descent.

Conclusion: Laser in situ keratomileusis may be a good choice for patients involved in high altitude activities. Patients achieving extreme altitudes of 26,000 feet and above should be aware of possible fluctuation of vision.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Cornea / physiopathology*
  • Cornea / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering
  • Myopia / physiopathology*
  • Myopia / surgery