Away on Netflix explained: Is Space Blindness real? What is Space Blindness?

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Away landed on Netflix in September 2020 and the series follows astronaut Emma Green (played by Hilary Swank) and her crew. The emotional series sees the crew tackle everything that could possibly go wrong, and it affects them all physically. Fans are keen to find out more about Space Blindness and has everything you need to know.

What is Space Blindness?

Fans were left feeling emotional after watching Away as it documents the journey from Earth to Mars, from the perspective of the five astronauts themselves.

The journey is a challenging one as everything that could go wrong along the way, does indeed test the group to their physical and emotional limits.

One of the astronauts on the journey is Misha Popov (Mark Ivanir), a Russian cosmonaut and engineer.

He is the most experienced member of the crew and he has been on many a spacewalk in his career – but his experience is tested when he starts to lose his sight.

Emma’s second in command, Ram Arya (Ray Panthaki), is a medical expert and he was spending a lot of time on Misha’s medical examinations.

Sadly it became clear to the crew that Misha was suffering from Space Blindness, although Misha denied the inevitable.

He believed his eyesight was fine until he made a fundamental error while trying to fix the ship’s water supply.

When he was questioned about his eyesight, Misha admitted he had memorised the letters on the eyesight test to make out his sight was perfectly normal.

Fans were sad to see Misha struggling to appreciate the beauty of Mars, as all he could see was an orange haze.

Space Blindness is in fact a real condition and it is still a concern for astronauts in space.

The condition can last for months, even after the astronauts have landed back on Earth, and it can sometimes have permanent effects.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dorit Donoviel from the US National Space Biomedical Research Institute said: “Nobody’s gone two years with exposure to this, and the concern is that we’d have a loss of vision. That is catastrophic for an astronaut.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly was chosen to be America’s first astronaut to spend a full year in space due to his perfect eyesight.

But he was left having to wear reading glasses since landing back on Earth because of the condition.

The condition is formally known as visual impairment inter-cranial pressure syndrome, or VIIP.

The loss in eyesight is caused by the level of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in astronaut’s brains. Those who spend longer in space have more CSF than those on short trips.

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In space, the CSF starts collecting around the optic nerves in the part of the skull where the eye sits.

The condition is a worry for astronauts as not many have spent more than a year in space so far, and it is likely to take more than 18 months if they wish to reach Mars and return.

There is no cure or solution for the condition, as Misha realised in the Away series when he finally reached Mars.

Although he was forced to be denoted from his position as lead engineer, the team ended up respecting him even more as he finally realised what mattered most was treating everyone as equals.

NASA has reported 15 male astronauts, who are all middle-aged, have experienced symptoms during long trips in space.

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Julie Robinson, the chief scientist of the International Space Station, said Space Blindness needs to be solved if astronauts are to successfully reach and return from Mars.

Speaking to the Las Vegas Sun, she said: “In the next 30 years, (a mission to Mars) is absolutely realistic.

“If someone handed me a rocket to Mars today, I would not be ready to be able to send the crew with it because we still would not have enough knowledge from the space station and from other tests to be able to operate.”

Fans have mixed thoughts on how Misha handled his Space Blindness in the series, with one saying on Twitter: “Misha is another liability.

“I get that being an astronaut is his life but he is putting the rest of the crew at risk. #AwayNetflix.”

Away is on Netflix now

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