Thursday, March 15, 2012

Long Term Space Missions Lead to Optical lssues in Astronauts

Anchored to the International Space Station's robot arm, STS-123 Mission Specialist Richard Linnehan participates in a spacewalk outside the orbital outpost. Photo credit: NASA

Dvice blog is reporting a study led by doctors from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston has shown that astronauts performing long duration space flight often report optical abnormalities. Now further research confirms that this does seem to be the case. Problems can range from deformation of the eyeball to swelling of the optic nerves.

Samples of 27 astronauts showed they did indeed have a mix of these problems as well as changes in the pituitary glands. According to the article, these symptoms mimic:
  • intracranial hypertension, where pressure inside the skull rises and presses on the brain and eyes. 
  • A very rare condition.
More problematic, flattening of the eyes and the optic nerve swelling  left unchecked could cause permanent damage. Even more troubling is that the issues seem to get worse  the longer the stay in space.

The Sydney Morning Herald, EurekaAlert

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