Researchers have said there is a need to solve the ‘space blindness’ issue before astronauts and colonists are sent to Mars in years to come ahead.
The suggestion is based on findings of studies carried out on the International Space Station (ISS) wherein it was found that prolonged time in space can cause temporary, and sometimes permanent, blindness. According to information provided by ISS’ chief scientist Julie Robinson that some astronauts who were sent to missions on ISS have had vision loss with some even having permanent vision loss that didn’t reverse when they returned to Earth.
If we are to send humans to Mars ‘space blindness’ is a major problem that requires a solution. Potential blindness appears to stem from how associated fluids in the body react in prolonged weightlessness, the ISS chief scientist said. Scientists have been trying to solve the issue for years, but data isn’t widely publicized because of astronauts’ privacy reasons.
The potential of vision loss in zero-gravity environments was not discovered early in manned space missions because astronauts’ short trips did not trigger the condition, Robinson said. At first, scientists thought it was a minor issue, but not anymore. While initial belief was that ‘space blindness’ issue was reversible, but that wasn’t the case.
Further, the problem didn’t come to light in the initial years of the ISS missions because all astronauts didn’t suffer from vision loss.
“We had a few crew members coming home with such significant vision loss that people realized that it wasn’t normal,” Robinson said. “And then we started looking into those, doing extra imaging, some spinal taps on astronauts, and found out they had really high spinal pressures and we realized there was something going on here that really mattered.”