Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
by Staff Writers
Orlando, Fla. (UPI) Sep 20, 2011
Astronauts who've spent long periods in space have experienced blurred vision, a problem that could jeopardize long missions like a trip to Mars, NASA says.
In a NASA survey of about 300 astronauts, 30 percent who have flown on two-week space shuttle missions and 60 percent who've spent six months aboard the International Space Station reported a gradual blurring of eyesight, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Monday.
NASA said it is conducting intensive research into the problem.
"We are certainly treating this with a great deal of respect," Dr. Rich Williams, NASA's chief health and medical officer, said. "This [eye condition] is comparable to the other risks like bone demineralization [loss] and radiation that we have to consider . It does have the potential for causing mission impact."
While the condition normally goes away once an astronaut returns to Earth, at least one astronaut reportedly has never regained normal vision.
"We have seen visual acuity not return to baseline," Williams said.
Similar to an Earth-bound condition called papilledema, the blurred vision is thought to be caused by increased spinal-fluid pressure on the head and eyes in microgravity.
Multiyear missions such as a trip to Mars could see the blurring of vision become a serious problem, researchers said.
"No one has been in space long enough to know how bad this papilledema can get," said Dr. Bruce Ehni, a neurosurgeon who has worked with NASA on the issue.
"When they [NASA] start going [to] long-distance [destinations] like Mars, you can't end up having a bunch of blind astronauts."
Space Medicine Technology and Systems
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|