New York: Astronauts experience bone and muscle loss in the weightlessness of space, and now the first study of returning space travelers` eyes suggests that prolonged amounts of time in orbit can take a significant toll on vision, although the long-term effects aren`t clear.The new study, of more than 300 astronauts in the U.S. space program, found that almost 50 percent of those who served on long missions -- six months or more -- reported experiencing new problems with their ability to see objects near to them while in space and for some time after returning to Earth. Roughly 23 percent of astronauts who spent shorter periods in orbit reported problems with their near vision during their missions and after getting home.The NASA-funded researchers also did physical exams on seven male astronauts who complained of vision problems after returning from six-month tours in space. They found several signs of eye stress in all of them, including a buildup of fluid around the optic nerve, the development of folds in the bed of vessels that supply blood to the retina, flattening of the eyeball and more."People have been flying in space for 50 years and nobody has gone blind yet," said Dr. Tom Mader, an ophthalmologist at the Alaska Native Medical Center, in Anchorage, who led the study. "But it`s still something to be concerned about," he told Reuters Health.
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