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Using artificial gravity to prevent visual changes in astronauts

Mice living in a controlled environment with Earth-like gravity on the International Space Station experienced lower levels of damage to their vision

18 Sep 2018 by Selina Powell

US scientists have come up with a potential solution to the visual changes experienced by astronauts who spend extended periods of time in space.

Around 30% of astronauts on space shuttle flights that last two weeks and 60% of astronauts on long-duration missions report changes to their vision.

Researchers from Florida State University highlighted in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences that mice kept in an area with Earth-like gravity on the International Space Station sustained less damage to their vision than mice kept outside the controlled environment.

Michael Delp, dean of Florida State University’s College of Human Sciences, explained that gravity pulls fluid down towards the feet.

“When you lose gravity, the fluid shifts towards the head. This fluid shift affects the vascular system throughout the body, and now we know it also affects the blood vessels in the eye,” he shared.

The researchers found that among the 12 mice that lived on the International Space Station, those in a zero-gravity environment experienced apoptosis of the vascular endothelial cells at a 64% higher rate than mice in an Earth-like controlled environment.

Image credit: NASA 


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