Space Blindness in the Netflix Series ‘Away’ — Is It a Real Thing?

Space Blindness in the Netflix Series ‘Away’ — Is It a Real Thing?

The short answer is yes.

Space blindness — the loss of vision experienced in zero gravity environments — isn’t just a dramatic plot point for Netflix’s Mars odyssey, ‘Away,’ Men’s Health reports.

It’s an actual documented phenomenon experienced by astronauts.

In fact, almost two-thirds of astronauts report problems with eyesight after months at the International Space Station. One astronaut reported that his impairment got so bad that he couldn’t read a landing checklist.

Between 2015 and 2016, American astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year at the International Space Station. (His experience is the basis for ‘Away.’) During that year, parts of Kelly’s retinas thickened, and he also experienced swelling to the blood supply to the back of his eye. That’s even more upsetting when you know that Kelly’s strong vision was one of the reasons he was first selected as an astronaut.

Former NASA Human Research Program Chief Scientist Mark Shelhamer noted in an interview with Air and Space that for some, impairment has even lingered after returning from space. It usually occurs when an astronaut stays in space for roughly six months. Stays in space longer than that (for a hypothetical trip to Mars, longer than a year) present a lot of unknowns when it comes to vision impairment. Some research  suggests that to prevent vision problems, astronauts may require artificial gravity.

 

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