Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scientists fear future astronauts could go blind on mission to Mars - 20th Sept 2011

A mission to Mars may be high on NASA's wish list but the agency will have to solve a serious problem first.

Scientists fear astronauts could go blind after discovering an eye condition that erodes the vision of those who have spent months in space.

The illness has already been found among some astronauts who have spent months aboard the International Space Station and now doctors fear future explorers could go completely blind by the end of a long mission, such as a trip to Mars which could take several years.

The threat of blurred vision is so great that NASA has put special eyeglasses on the space station to help those afflicted with the condition and tasked scores of researchers with studying the issue.

Dr. Rich Williams, NASA's Chief Health and Medical Officer, said: 'We are certainly treating this with a great deal of respect.'

He added: 'This [eye condition] is comparable to the other risks like bone demineralization [loss] and radiation that we have to consider … It does have the potential for causing mission impact.' Read More