To live in outer space we have to lose part of our sight. This is the reason

Long-term risks of living in space include bone loss or muscle weakness, just to name a few harmful side effects, so leaving gravity behind certainly has its pitfalls.

Some of these potential obstacles have already been extensively studied or are currently being investigated, but MUSC Health researchers have found an important but neglected area of ​​space that needs further study: the brain and the effect of gravity on sight.

In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers looked at so-called spaceflight-associated neuroocular syndrome (SANS) and compared brain scans before and after spaceflight.

The longer astronauts stay in space, the more they report blurred vision and vision problems when they return to Earth. That’s why they even wear extra goggles when they go into space. It affects 70% of astronauts.

With SANS, astronauts return to earth with impaired visual acuity. The blood cells in their eyes flatten, parts of their retinas show damage, and their optic discs swell. Some astronauts recover from these changes within a few weeks, while others may take months or even years. There are also some that never fully recover.

NASA has made SANS one of its top research priorities, according to the study’s authors, and the study results advance that research by providing insights into what happens to the brain and vision in space. Much of the research focuses on muscle loss in space, but rarely focuses on the brain specifically.

Later, Roberts and Rosenberg, the lead authors of the study, will discuss the ways in which SANS may differ between genders. Without being able to perform an MRI in space, Roberts says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the change in the dural venous sinuses occurs (it could be during takeoff, in space, or while acclimating to Earth upon return), so which is also investigating a mobile MRI machine to perform scans in space to better understand how the condition develops.

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