Space odyssey: Okko Health to test eye health in extreme environments

A collaboration with University of Plymouth will see the eye health technology provider test vision in challenging environments, including space

Earth from space

The eye health technology company, Okko Health, will test vision in a variety of extreme environments – including space – as part of a collaboration with the University of Plymouth.

The project has already seen the Okko app being used to test vision while camping within Gruta do Natal, a cave system within Portugal.

Okko Health explained that the app was used in pitch-black conditions, with researchers isolated from the outside world and facing similar challenges to those experienced in space – such as confinement and limited equipment.

The app uses puzzle games to collect a variety of data that provides insight on an individual’s eye health.

Dr Daniela Oehring, associate professor of optometry at the University of Plymouth, shared that the app has the potential to transform eye care by better capturing how individuals see and providing deeper insights into visual function.

“Current eye charts, while great for prescribing glasses, fall short in detecting and monitoring eye diseases early. Static, black-and-white letters don't capture the full picture of how we actually see the world," she said.

Caving Analog Mission: Ocean, Earth, Space (CAMões) is providing sponsorship for the project.

Stephanie Campbell, chief executive of Okko Health, shared her hope that the insights gained through the project will lead to advancements in eye care.

“This collaboration truly puts the UK on the map for vision science space research,” she said.

By using the app in space, researchers will validate its effectiveness and reliability in unusual conditions.

Insight gained on how vision responds to microgravity and altered intracranial pressure has the potential to help scientists better understand, detect and monitor neurological conditions.