NASA Ocular Health Study receives Heidelberg award

June 27, 2014

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ocular Health Study has been named as the recipient of Heidelberg Engineering's 2014 Xtreme Research Award.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ocular Health Study has been named as the recipient of Heidelberg Engineering's 2014 Xtreme Research Award.

NASA's Ocular Health Study was initiated to examine ocular changes seen in a number of astronauts. According to NASA, "The purpose of the prospective observational study of ocular health on the International Space Station crew is to collect evidence to characterize the risk and define the visual changes, vascular changes and central nervous system (CNS) changes, including intracranial pressure, observed during long-duration exposure to microgravity, including post-flight time course for recovery to baseline. This study will gather information that can be used to assess the risk of Microgravity-Induced Visual Impairment/Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) and guide future research needs."

Dr Nimesh Patel, PhD, assistant professor, University of Houston College of Optometry and a consultant to NASA, accepted the award and presented the award lecture. In the presentation, titled 'OCT in Zero G', Dr Patel provided details about the use of Heidelberg Engineering's Spectralis optical coherence tomography (OCT) unit on board the International Space Station (ISS), which has been in low Earth orbit since 1998.

In his presentation, Dr Patel noted that 21 US ISS long-duration spaceflight astronauts have developed some or all of the following: hyperopic shift, scotoma, choroidal folds, cotton wool spots, optic nerve sheath distension, globe flattening or oedema of the optic nerve during space flight.

According to Dr Patel, "With the Spectralis instrument, changes in retinal and optic nerve head anatomy can be monitored in astronauts on the ISS. Although there is inter-individual variability, the trends are similar and will provide important insights into the mechanisms involved."

A video recording of the Xtreme Research Lecture by Dr Patel is available on the Heidelberg Engineering website.