Scientists have developed a high-tech sleeping bag to prevent vision problems encountered by some astronauts living in space.
In weightlessness, fluids float up to the head, crushing the eyelids over time.
This is one of the most dangerous problems for astronauts, and some experts fear it could jeopardize missions to Mars.
In bags a Head-to-toe fluid absorption technology.
The person responsible for its development Benjamin levine, professor of native medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and device researcher on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA has documented vision problems for more than half of the astronauts working on the ISS. Some were far-sighted and had learning difficulties, and sometimes needed the support of other members of the same team to carry out the experimental tasks.
“We don’t know how severe the effects of a long flight like two years of Martian surgery will be,” said Professor Levine, who is also director of the Institute for Environmental and Exercise Medicine, a medical program in the United States. South West. Center in collaboration with the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
“If the astronauts have a serious disability that prevents them from seeing what they are doing, it will be a huge disaster and it will jeopardize the mission,” he added.
In 2005, astronaut John Phillips flew to the ISS with 20/20 view, only to return six months later with 20/100 view. Others experience a less severe version of the disease.
On Earth, when a person wakes up from bed, gravity circulates fluids around the body, which is called “discharge.” In space, however, the weak force of gravity allows almost two liters of bodily fluid to build up in the head, putting pressure on eyesight.
Conditions in space can cause a condition called space flight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS), which causes progressive gas in the back of the eye, causing inflammation of the optic nerve and impaired vision.
How does a sleeping bag work?
Although the brain pressure of a person lying on the ground is slightly higher than that of a person in space, it softens when they stand up, which never happens to astronauts in zero gravity.
The sleeping bag, developed in collaboration with outdoor equipment manufacturer REI, fits around a person’s waist and encloses the lower body in a rigid frame.
A suction device works on the same principle as a vacuum cleaner, creating a pressure difference that draws the fluid to the feet. This prevents it from building up in the brain and creates harmful pressure on the eye.
Before regularly using this new technology, it is necessary to consider the time that astronauts should spend with their sleeping bag.
“Should everyone do it or is he at risk of developing SANS?” Should they do this as soon as they go into space or can they just wait and see if their vision changes? Dr. Levine asked. .
Despite these questions, the scientist was optimistic that SANS would not pose a health risk when NASA embarks on its journey to Mars.
How did they test the technology?
Twelve cancer survivors have helped clarify the causes of this disease. Volunteers who participated in the study had ports on their heads to receive chemotherapy and allowed experts to measure their brain pressure while flying on parabolic missions that simulated weightlessness for several seconds.
The scientists thus carried out measurements lying down with or without a sleeping bag. After lying down for three days, the researchers found that there was pressure to slightly change the shape of the eyelid, but no such change occurred when using the technique. aspiration.
The sock technology also helps to improve the condition of atrial fibrillation caused by microgravity, which causes the heart to contract in space and therefore an irregular beat.
The work has been reviewed by the press Jama Ophthalmology.
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