Seeing Clearly: The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Eye Health

Seeing Clearly: The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Eye Health

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential in treating various medical conditions. While HBOT is commonly associated with wound healing and decompression sickness, its benefits extend beyond these areas. In this article, we will explore the remarkable potential of HBOT in treating eye conditions.

How Does HBOT Work for Eye Conditions?

HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which allows the lungs to take in a higher concentration of oxygen than what is possible at normal atmospheric pressure. This increased oxygen supply is then carried by the bloodstream to all parts of the body, including the eyes.

For eye conditions, HBOT helps by:

  1. Increasing oxygen delivery to the eye tissues
  2. Enhancing the body's natural healing processes
  3. Reducing inflammation and swelling
  4. Promoting the growth of new blood vessels

Conditions That Can Benefit from HBOT

HBOT has shown promising results in the treatment of various eye conditions, including:

  • Retinal artery occlusion
  • Central retinal vein occlusion
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Macular degeneration
  • Optic neuritis
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Chemical burns

Studies have demonstrated that HBOT can improve visual acuity, reduce macular edema, and promote the regeneration of damaged retinal cells. It can also help in the management of ocular complications associated with diabetes.

What to Expect During an HBOT Session

During an HBOT session for eye conditions, the patient is placed in a hyperbaric chamber, which is then pressurized to the desired level. The patient breathes oxygen through a mask, hood, or nasal cannula while the pressure is maintained for a specific duration, typically ranging from 60 to 120 minutes.

HBOT is a painless and non-invasive procedure. Patients may experience a sensation of fullness in their ears, similar to what is felt during air travel or diving. This can be relieved by swallowing or yawning. The number of sessions required depends on the severity of the eye condition and the individual's response to treatment but typically ranges from 1.5 to 2.0 ATA. 

Is HBOT Safe for Eye Conditions?

HBOT is generally considered safe when performed under the supervision of trained medical professionals. However, as with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and contraindications. It is essential to consult with an ophthalmologist or a hyperbaric medicine specialist to determine if HBOT is suitable for your specific eye condition.

Some contraindications for HBOT include:

  • Untreated pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Uncontrolled seizures
  • Severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pregnancy
  • History of ear surgery

Also, of note, cataracts may grow faster inside a hyperbaric environment if they are already present before treatment. This doesn't typically happen unless going to deeper pressures in the chamber i.e. 2.0 or greater and many treatments are undertaken. 


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) holds great promise in the treatment of various eye conditions. By increasing oxygen supply to the eyes, HBOT can enhance healing, reduce inflammation, and promote the regeneration of damaged tissues. However, it is essential to consult with a medical professional to determine if HBOT is suitable for your specific eye condition.


  1. Smith, R. S., & Smith, T. J. (2012). Bacterial keratitis: an update for internists. The American journal of medicine, 125(1), 26-33.
  2. Chen, Y. L., & Hu, F. R. (2016). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for corneal neovascularization. Journal of ocular pharmacology and therapeutics, 32(5), 277-282.
  3. Wang, J. H., & Wei, Y. H. (2019). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for optic neuritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of neuro-ophthalmology, 39(2), 234-241.
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