Hemel Hempstead, UK – When astronauts spend lengthy periods of time in space, they can experience changes in their vision believed to be caused by space travel and micro-gravity. These changes are not only a concern for today’s astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS), but for astronauts that will participate in human missions to Mars lasting up to 3 years in the future.
Evidence suggests that during prolonged periods in space, the extreme environment could do irreversible damage to an astronaut’s eyes. NASA has commissioned a comprehensive study in the hope that in-flight monitoring and timely treatment will be able to counter the detrimental visual effects of living in space.
Astronauts undergo a variety of eye examinations at regular time intervals during their mission. One of the technologies that is being used aboard the International Space Station measures very small changes in the structure of the eye. The SPECTRALIS is a high-tech eye scanner that employs eye tracking technology to scan in precisely the same location every time, detecting as little as 1 micron of change. NASA uses the SPECTRALIS to perform a precise, objective examination at baseline prior to space flight, at routine intervals during missions and following space travel. It is thought that the SPECTRALIS could be an on-board “early-warning system”, detecting small changes before astronauts are aware of deterioration in their vision.
Having once been exclusive to specialists and researchers, this amazing eye scanning technology is now available to High Street opticians. With just over 100 centres nationwide, the SPECTRALIS eye health check, performed in seconds and without any pain or sensation, can highlight the earliest signs of disease – long before any symptoms appear.