To become an astronaut, one has to have perfect vision. However, many astronauts start experiencing vision problems after spending time in space.
Scientists from the UT Southwestern Medical Center have tried to solve this problem and developed a sleeping bag that can protect astronauts' eyesight during space missions.
More than half of NASA astronauts who have stayed at the International Space Station (ISS) for over six months have developed vision problems. When the time for future missions to Mars and building colonies on the Red Planer comes, the problem could take on a much larger scale.
Such vision problems are caused by the fact that once the astronaut is in zero gravity, their body's fluids float into the head, continually pushing and reshaping the eyeball.
Scientists started solving this problem in 2017. Back then, they recruited volunteers who had recovered from cancer but still had the ports for chemotherapy on their heads. Thanks to these ports, scientists could directly measure brain pressure.
The volunteers went on a zero-gravity airplane flight to the upper atmosphere to experience zero gravity. The results showed that the brain pressure of a person who lays in a bed on Earth is higher than that of a person in zero gravity, and the fluids float into their heads as well. However, once we stand up on Earth, gravity pulls the fluids back.
Based on the research, scientists have developed a sleeping bag for astronauts, which compresses the human body during sleep in such a way that it maintains a normal balance of fluids, close to that observed on Earth.
Scientists say that this sleeping bag can thus protect astronauts' eyes from damage during long-term flights into space.