Many experts believe that we are on track to becoming a multi-planetary species within our lifetime. Government agencies like NASA as well as private companies like SpaceX are actively pursuing plans to send humans beyond the moon for the first time in history as part of a series of missions that seek to visit Mars and ultimately put humans on its surface. Such ambitious goals will not only test the extent of our scientific and engineering prowess, but also the human body’s ability to function in the micro-gravity and zero gravity environments of space for extended periods of time.
Contemporary research has revealed that exposure to micro-gravity environments for extended periods of time can create significant adverse changes to the human body which can cause serious health complications. Among these are vision changes that can be sight threatening. The need for us to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms governing the structural, physiological and functional vision changes induced by low and zero gravity environments will only grow as manned space exploration missions probe further into our solar system in the coming years.
On this episode of the ODs on Facebook Podcast we discuss the role of eyecare providers in addressing the visual and ocular health challenges facing current and future space explorers.
Our guest for this episode
Nitya Murthy, OD2020
Nitya Murthy is a fourth year optometry student at the Kentucky College of Optometry. She is passionate about cornea and contact lenses, research and education. She has been involved in various areas of research including neuro-ocular pathophysiology. Of note, she presented research on the effects of head-down tilt on intraocular pressure changes characteristic of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome and presented her work at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting in 2019. She has also published research in contact lenses and ocular surface disease.
Nitya has held various leadership positions at local and regional levels including chapter president and national historian of the National Optometric Students Association and founder and president of the KYCO Cornea and Contact Lens Society. Nitya proudly served as a Charter Lion and Treasurer of the Pikeville Lions Club for 3 years and continues to be an active member of her local Lions Club. She has completed optometric externships at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Hospital, Harper’s Point Eye Associates and at the Kentucky Eye Institute. She plans to stay involved in clinical research and work in Kentucky after graduation.
When she’s not studying or catching up on sleep, she enjoys hiking, painting and wildlife photography.
Nitya’s social media handles:
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