Why Visiting Space Changes Astronauts’ Eyesight

To be taught extra about this problem and the way therapies could be developed to handle it, NASA runs experiments on the International Space Station. The company makes use of a particular digital camera to look in the back of the attention with a way known as coherence tomography, which helps monitor how a lot fluid is accumulating there. The analysis being achieved on the station reveals how these modifications develop over time. “We didn’t see swelling of the optic disc when we flew two-week shuttle missions, but we did on long-duration missions, so there is definitely a time element,” mentioned NASA scientist Steve Laurie.

He mentioned that the situation, technically known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS), is most definitely brought on by the fluid problem: “We still believe headward fluid shift underlies SANS, so the question is how it causes these effects. On top of that, you have modifying factors and variability in outcomes in different crew members. We do not know why this variation exists.”

Understanding this subject goes to be extra necessary for future long-term missions, corresponding to deliberate crewed missions to Mars. “The idea of embarking on a long-duration flight to Mars without having made this discovery is mind-boggling,” mentioned NASA astronaut Michael Barratt who served on the space station in 2009. “We would have had people taking voyages of up to three years and coming back with all these problems that would have taken us forever to figure out.”

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