A new study has found that astronauts have a high risk of eye problems after being in space.
In space, the alterations are probably caused by living in free-fall. “One potential mechanism is that blood which normally pools in the legs is shifted toward the skull, raising pressure,” says Kramer.
The findings tally with the results of a survey of 300 astronauts carried out last year. Deteriorations in vision were reported by 29 per cent of astronauts on short-term missions, and 60 per cent on long-term missions.
“If astronauts are exhibiting these changes after only 100 days in space, what will happen on a three-year flight to Mars?” asks Jason Kring, who studies human performance in extreme conditions at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
I suspect there will be ways to mitigate or prevent eye damage, but it is definitely something to think about.* We couldn’t have people going blind partway through a long spaceflight without significant consequences.
*Assuming the study is correct. More study is likely needed.