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Space exploration has recently seen a surge in government, industry and public interest that has not existed since the iconic space race of the 1960s. This trend is a product of breakthroughs in rocket and satellite technologies and an increase in government and private sector investment in space.
This combination of factors has served to drive down the costs of access to space dramatically and has made what were once impractical projects, viable and actionable. These projects span the gamut from scientific missions to explore the moon, Mars and beyond to entrepreneurial ventures that aim to provide new commercial services like satellite-based high-speed internet, space tourism and precious mineral extraction from asteroids.
Our study of the viability of terrestrial life in space began with the first live animals that were sent into space during the early American and Soviet space programs to test if space was safe for human exploration. Those efforts continued and evolved into present-day research involving plants, animals, and astronauts who are currently living on the International Space Station.
In 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 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.
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