We’ll go to the ends of the earth – and beyond – to help people live healthy lives. Abbott is teaming up with space researchers on the “Vision for Mars Challenge,” with hopes of bringing the work back down to Earth.

Space exploration is inherently fascinating and part of our pop culture obsession – just look at ticket sales for the movies Interstellar and Gravity. But few people realize how the science conducted in space can help us live healthier, better lives.

That's where the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute comes in. The NSBRI is a non-profit organization partnered with NASA to study and solve the health risks related to long-distance space travel.

Abbott was recently invited to participate in the NSBRI "Vision for Mars Challenge." The Vision to Mars Challenge is bringing together leaders in ophthalmology to specifically address the eye health of astronauts. Having the best possible vision will be important for expanding space exploration and a manned mission to Mars. Research shows that long-term exposure to the extreme, no-gravity environment in space can wreak havoc on the eye’s structure and normal operation.

The Challenge isn’t just about astronauts. Countless healthcare solutions once developed for use by astronauts living and working in space are used today on earth. Examples of these high-tech advances include portable diagnostic equipment, telemedicine and ultrasound techniques to evaluate people with heart disease. At Abbott, we have also collaborated with NASA on the James Webb Space Telescope to develop the extremely precise methods to measure and polish the lenses on the telescope - methods which are now used in modern LASIK treatment.

Abbott and others involved in the project are optimistic that it will lead to even more solutions for some of today's common health issues. For example, learnings about the effect of no gravity on the eye may someday help in studying ways to treat glaucoma, a common condition that may occur when pressure in the eye builds, resulting in eye damage and possible blindness.

By helping the Vision for Mars Challenge, we hope to not only help solve the common health issues our astronauts face, but also join the pioneering science of NASA with innovations in health technology that can improve the sight of people around the world.

Learn more about the Vision to Mars Challenge:
NSBRI press release, Vision for Mars
Ophthalmology Times article about Vision for Mars

Click here to learn more about how Abbott’s work with the James Webb telescope influenced LASIK technology.