For years now, we have all enjoyed and awed at the accomplishments of NASA and our space flights. Recently, Mike Wald reports at Space.com that there may be serious eye issues with astronauts in space over extended periods of time. Specifically, the fluid inside our brain and down within our spine develops increasing pressure that extends through the optic nerve and ‘pushes’ on the delicate retina.
This is medically denoted as Papilledema.
Papilledema can put so much pressure on the optic nerve ( see arrows in picture) that the fibers carrying the image to the brain just die and cease to function.
Of course, that has serious consequences for healthy vision. Right now, they have already determined that many of the astronauts in space for long durations show mild forms of this condition.
What scientists are now wondering is if there is a way to counteract this process and just why it is happening. This problem will need to be understood and resolved before NASA undertakes long missions like to Mars for example. Let’s hope they can find a solution as human space exploration always holds a special place for all of us. If not, then perhaps our continued robotic missions will suffice or we will develop Artificial Intelligence in our robots which could bring back some ‘human’ qualities of adventures in space.