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Long missions in space may damage eyesight

Prolonged periods of space travel might damage astronauts eyesight according to new research. NASA say they are not unduly worried.

Space walking astronaut John Grunsfeld
Space walking astronaut John Grunsfeld
Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

ASTRONAUTS WHO SPEND prolonged periods in space are susceptible to damaging their eyesight. According to a study in the Journal of Radiology astronauts can develop abnormalities in their brains and eyes.

Twenty- seven space travellers under went magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which showed that space travel over a month in duration can cause effects similar to those that occur in intracranial hypertension.

The research found that the astronauts who had spent an average of 108 days in space had deformities on their eyeballs, optic nerves and pituitary glands. These sort of complications are generally found in patients who have suffered pressure in the  brain that causes swelling of the juncture between the optic nerve and the eyeball.

The study was headed up by Larry Kramer, from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

BBC News states NASA’s medical staff said they were looking into the latest concerns raised by the study. William Tarver, the chief of flight medicine clinic at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has said the results were suspicious but not conclusive of intracranial hypertension.

The International Business Times reports that this study raises fresh concerns about the health of astronauts and may impact on possible future long term missions like that to Mars.

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