Astronauts Experience Changes in Eye Structure

Astronauts Experience Changes in Eye Structure

A new study reveals that astronauts who spend time on the International Space Station undergo changes in their eye structure on returning to Earth, according to an article published on March 13, 2018.
NASA discovered a phenomenon called space flight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS), which is associated with changes in eye structure of astronauts on board. These optical changes were examined by a team of optometrists at the University of Houston. They made use of optical coherence tomography imaging to measure the changes in the eye structure.
“We studied pre-flight and post-flight data from 15 astronauts who had spent time aboard the space station and detected changes in morphology of the eyes,” said Nimesh Patel, assistant professor. They found that all of these astronauts had good vision before and after they boarded the flight, however, found a change in the structure of the eyes of many.

Customized programs were created to study the data gathered from the optical coherence tomography. The results showed that prolonged space flight was associated with three major changes in the eyes.
“The findings of this study show that in individuals exposed to long-duration microgravity, there is a change in the position of the Bruch membrane opening, an increase in retinal thickness closer to the optic nerve head rim margin, and an increase in the proportion of eyes with choroidal folds,” said Patel.
Patients with elevated intracranial pressure are expected to face some changes, however, it has been observed that those with intracranial hypertension do not suffer from choroidal folds.
Changes in astronauts are seen as result of shifts in microgravity-associated orbital and cranial fluids.
The team believes that these algorithms have the potential to help in patient care, as these findings aid in understanding physiological changes in human body.

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