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    What astronauts can teach us about glaucoma

     

    According to NASA, vision problems range from hyperopic shift and choroidal folds to globe flattening and papilledema.

    Working with other ophthalmologists as part of the Vision to Mars program, Dr. Berdahl is developing “balance goggles” that might be able to address the VIIP concerns.

    In essence, these goggles maintain a “regular” pressure when being worn, reducing the potential VIIP symptoms.

    “In space without gravity, the CSF at eye level is higher, which explains why astronauts get VIIP,” he said.

    A manned mission to Mars—which NASA hopes to achieve by 2030—will take about 400 days. With VIIP occurring in people who have spent 6 months at the space station, ocular health and vision is a key concern before sending astronauts off to Mars, he said.

    Absolute IOP plummets in a vacuum to local atmospheric pressure, Dr. Berdahl said.

    Only after the vacuum is removed does the pressure normalize, but MRI images of astronauts have clearly shown swelling around the optic nerve.

    “When the first person steps on Mars it will be the defining moment of our generation,” he said, and added the progress with the Balance Goggles may alleviate at least one health concern.

    More: How pre-existing glaucoma poses considerations for corneal procedures

     

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