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May 2000 Vol. 26, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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To See in the Sea

from the May, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Good news for divers who have had — or are interested in having — radial keratometry surgery to correct nearsightedness.

In a study performed at the Long Beach California Memorial Medical Center, doctors tested several RK subjects in a hyperbaric chamber with a control group that had not had the surgery. RK eyes are unstable at high altitudes — highaltitude corneal edema associated with RK causes a temporary structural change in the cornea with subsequent visual loss. This was highlighted during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when Beck Weathers lost his sight, and nearly his life, when his vision changed at high altitude because he had had RK. Doctors were concerned that increased pressure might have the same effect.

However, they found no change in the eyes of people who had the RK surgery compared to the control group and concluded that “RKR patients can engage in recreational scuba diving without encountering deleterious visual changes.” (N. Timothy Peters, MD, Robert C. Borer Jr., MD, Michad B. Strauss, MD, Journal of Cataract Refract Surg 1999; 25:1620-1623 0 1999 ASCRS and ESCPS)

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