January 25th 2012 – In an October issue of Ophthalmology, it was reported that astronauts who spend six months or longer in space may begin to experience visual changes, changes that may last even after returning to Earth. In a study conducted, seven astronauts spent at least six consecutive months in space were observed, and all of them reported blurred vision while on the space station. This study concurred with previous studies conducted in 1989, which showed about 50% of 300 astronauts involved in space missions longer than six months reported changes in both distance and near vision.
Furthermore, Lawrence DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D, optometrist and astronaut, saw changes in vision 20 years ago while he himself was on the space shuttle Columbia. Dr. DeLucas shared his own findings regarding the crew members, citing seeing petite hemes in several members of the team just a few days into the mission. Many of those hemorrhages began to reabsorb 12 days into the mission. He believes it had something to do with changes in gravity, resulting in increased intracranial pressure, which subsequently can lead to optic edema and changes in vision. This is certainly something that NASA and eyecare professionals will be keeping an eye on.
Article By: Antonio Chirumbolo SUNY 2013
Want to be a student reporter and help add news stories just like this? Contact us to join the team!