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Challenge

Apply deep learning or other advanced computational tools to ophthalmic images and/or visual tests to detect subclinical trends in cardiovascular, neurological, or immunological health, that are predictive of acute or developing chronic conditions; develop tools to quantitate risk.

 
Background

Markers of cardiovascular, metabolic, or neurodegenerative diseases can manifest in the eye. Subclinical conditions may develop as a result of long-duration deep spaceflight exposure and stressors such as microgravity, ionizing radiation, toxic chemical exposure, and infections. These could potentially be detected early using standard clinical tests commonly used to monitor ophthalmic and vision health.

NASA is likely to fly a suite of capabilities that include optical coherence tomography, retinal imaging with a 45-degree field of view, perimetry, optical biometry, color vision, objective refraction.

Examples of conditions that are of concern in spaceflight (based on data collected from animal studies as well as astronaut data) include vascular stiffening (cardiovascular and cerebrovascular), exacerbation of atherosclerosis due to ionizing radiation exposure, toxic exposures (ammonia from coolant or smoke), urinary retention and obstruction, infections, sepsis, unintentional medication overdosing or toxicity from degraded medications, nutritional deficits, trauma related sequelae, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.

For a more comprehensive medical conditions list and a prioritization of NASA HRP’s risks to human health in deep space see:

Examples of Projects that COULD be considered:

  • Projects that rely strictly on ophthalmic imaging or visual testing alone or in combination with other low-nuisance sensor parameters to develop predictors of subclinical disease or conditions of high concern and relevance for a 30-month deep space mission.

Examples of Projects that WILL NOT be considered:

  • NASA is already supporting work that uses ophthalmic imaging to detect the Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS). TRISH will not consider proposals whose focus is SANS detection and prediction, i.e., papilledema and swelling of retinal nerve fiber layers.
  • While cataracts are of concern in astronauts, they are unlikely to develop at a rate to affect astronaut performance during a 30-month mission.
  • Proposals that rely on diagnostic tools or ophthalmic tests that would be difficult to implement in deep space (for example, Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

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