Introduction: We evaluated ocular outcomes in a 14-d head-down tilt (HDT) bed rest (BR) study designed to simulate the effects of microgravity on the human body. Methods: Healthy subjects were selected using NASA standard screening procedures. Standardized NASA BR conditions were implemented (e.g., strict sleep-wake cycle, standardized diet, 24-hour-a-day BR, continuous video monitoring). Subjects maintained a 6° HDT position for 14 consecutive days. Weekly ophthalmological examinations were performed in the sitting (pre/post-BR) and HDT (in-bed phase) positions. Equivalency tests with optimal-alpha techniques evaluated pre/post-BR differences in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), spherical equivalent, intraocular pressure (IOP), Spectral-domain OCT retinal nerve fiber layer thickness (RNFLT), optic disc and macular parameters. Results: 16 subjects (12 men and 4 women) were enrolled. Nearly all ocular outcomes were within our predefined clinically relevant thresholds following HDTBR, except near BCVA (pre/post-BR mean difference: -0.06 logMAR), spherical equivalent (-0.30 D), Tonopen XL IOP (+3.03 mmHg) and Spectralis OCT average (+1.14 m m), temporalinferior (+1.58 m m) and nasal-inferior RNFLT (+3.48 m m). Modified Amsler grid, red dot test, confrontational visual field, and color vision were within normal limits throughout. No changes were detected on stereoscopic color fundus photography. Discussion: A few functional and structural changes were detected after 14-d HDTBR, notably an improved BCVA possibly due to learning effect and RNFL thickening without signs of optic disc edema. In general, 6° HDTBR determined a small nonprogressive IOP elevation, which returned to baseline levels post- BR. Further studies with different BR duration and/or tilt angle are warranted to investigate microgravity-induced ophthalmological changes. Keywords: microgravity, intraocular pressure, retinal nerve fiber layer, optimal alpha.
- Intraocular pressure
- Optimal alpha
- Retinal nerve fiber layer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health