Carbon Monoxide and the Eye: A Teaching Case Report

Todd Peabody, OD, MBA, FAAO
Amanda Furr, OD
Nash Ditmetaroj, OD

Abstract

Both acute and chronic exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) gas can have serious and permanent effects on a person’s health and vision, especially if left untreated. The brain and eyes are at risk upon exposure to this clear, odorless gas due to the large oxygen demands of these structures. This teaching case report highlights the need for eyecare professionals to recognize the possible ocular, systemic and neurological effects of CO poisoning and the impending long-term risk factors. This report also reviews the body’s response to acute hypoxic events, including ocular and systemic symptomatology, the testing and procedures used for the differential diagnosis of CO poisoning, the events and risk factors leading to CO poisoning, the pathophysiology of CO on the body, and the treatment options for CO poisoning from the perspective of an eyecare provider.

Key Words: carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide poisoning, CO poisoning, CO exposure, acute carbon monoxide poisoning, carboxyhemoglobin, ocular CO poisoning, diplopia, double vision

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