Abstract

The changes in the spatial and frequency characteristics of the visual system, visual acuity, and the morphological structures of the macular zone of the retina in cosmonauts and pilots as a result of various gravitational loads were studied. We found that, after long space missions, cosmonauts exhibit a slight but statistically significant decrease in distance visual acuity, a significant decrease in contrast sensitivity mainly in the middle and low spatial frequencies, a decrease in the light sensitivity of the macular zone, a decrease in the optical density of the macular retinal pigment, and thickening of the chorioretinal layer. A pronounced decrease in contrast sensitivity in the low- and medium-spatial-frequency regions but an insignificant one in the high-spatial-frequency region and accordingly a small decrease in visual acuity indicate a disruption of the operation of the nerve structures of the visual analyzer, probably resulting from an increase in the level of internal noise. This increase in the level of internal noise in cosmonauts is associated with a prolonged exposure to microgravity, which causes a disruption of normal blood circulation.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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