A significant proportion of the astronauts who spend extended periods in microgravity develop ophthalmic abnormalities. Understanding this syndrome, called visual impairment and intracranial pressure (VIIP), has become a high priority for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, especially in view of future long-duration missions (e.g., Mars missions). Moreover, to ensure selection of astronaut candidates who will be able to complete long-duration missions with low risk of the VIIP syndrome, it is imperative to identify biomarkers for VIIP risk prediction. Here, we hypothesize that the optic nerve sheath response to alterations in intracranial pressure may be a potential predictive biomarker for optic disc edema in astronauts. If confirmed, this biomarker could be used for preflight identification of astronauts at risk for developing VIIP-associated optic disc edema.
Keywords: astronaut; biomarker; cerebrospinal fluid pressure; glymphatic system; intracranial pressure; intrathecal infusion test; long-duration spaceflight; optic disc edema; optic nerve sheath diameter; visual impairment and intracranial pressure syndrome.