The prevention and treatment of expedition-related eye problems are an important part of the overall medical plan. Exposure to ocular disorders is often increased by the extreme conditions and circumstances of expeditions. Unfortunately, loss of vision and ocular pain can be incapacitating, rapidly placing the victim in a precarious and dangerous situation.
The eye is a complex organ, and for practical purposes, this chapter is not a substitute for more comprehensive ophthalmic texts that address numerous eye conditions not commonly related to expeditions. However, it recognizes that a random ocular problem may arise or a preexisting eye condition may recur during an expedition. Certain of these problems and their symptoms could be confused with an expedition-related injury or condition; therefore, an accurate history is essential under these circumstances. Some of these conditions are briefly discussed.
Attention is focused on the identification and therapy of common expedition-related eye conditions that can be reasonably managed within the expedition environment. Certain disorders that require evacuation are identified and described – although they are important, they are rare. When a serious disorder is evident, difficult evacuation decisions must be made; evaluation and therapy may be required by an experienced ophthalmologist using office equipment and tests not available on expeditions; hospital care and surgery may also be necessary. Guidelines for such circumstances are addressed.
EXPEDITION EYE SUPPLIES
Individuals with chronic or recurring eye conditions (i.e., glaucoma and allergic conjunctivitis) are advised to carry their own supply of personal tried and tested eye medications on expeditions.