Space flight is a challenge. We already know that astronauts face freezing temperatures, the vacuum of space, isolation, and radiation, but have you ever considered you might even lose your sight?
Researchers have just realized that spending time in space will worsen astronauts’ vision. On 19 April, David Wolf, M.D., retired NASA astronaut will be at a conference hosted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Washington, D.C., where he will provide details on how space flight can affect the vision.
168 Days In Space
Dr. Wolf has gathered in his portfolio 168 days of living in space, taking a ‘break’ from Earth. Little did he know that his eyes will never be the same…
He was on board of four shuttle missions and spent 128 days at the board of the Russian Mir space station. He was also the one to coordinate the spacewalk team to construct the International Space Station.
In the conference, Dr. Wolf will present his experience, focusing on how space flight has changed the structure of the eye after missions. A lot of astronauts have had problems with their vision after missions and some of them had these issues many years after returning from space.
It seems that microgravity causes a pressure rise in the head, but it’s mild and persistent. This causes the eye to reshape and ultimately impairs vision.
Researchers have started using techniques borrowed from ophthalmologists to find a solution to prevent this problem because the U.S. is preparing for long manned missions to the International Space Station, moon, asteroid belt and to Mars.
Working in the Name of Science for Decades
Recently, Dr. Wolf was appointed to serve on the new Users Advisory Group for the National Space Council. Over the years, Dr. Wolf was a U.S. Air Force senior flight surgeon – 1983 to 2004, getting the rank of Lt. Colonel. He is also the inventor of over 17 U.S. patents, being a pioneer in developing modern techniques of medical ultrasonic image processing. In 1990 he received the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal and two years later he was named NASA Inventor of the Year.
His latest achievement was in 2011, entering the Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame for the creation of a bioreactor that makes possible the growth of tissue, virus cultures and tumors outside the body both on Earth and in space.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.