Professor Bill Morgan, Managing Director of the Lions Eye Institute, recently ran a series of sessions for the International Space Centre’s Space Physiology Node at the Lions Eye Institute, and presented on “Spaceflight Associated Neuro Ocular Syndrome, Intracranial Pressure Monitoring This In Space”.
Professor Morgan said one aspect of this research includes working on the ability to measure the brain fluid pressure without having to insert needles in the back or drill holes into the skull. Intracranial pressure can be an issue for astronauts, and is also known to affect recovery from traumatic head injury, brain tumours, optic nerve swelling and glaucoma.
“We found a very curious phenomenon where the brain fluid pressure pulsates and sends a signal forwards into the eye. More recently we have been able to use that signal to predict what the pressure is in the brain itself which has never been done before. If you want to have your brain fluid pressure measured you either have to have a drill in your head or a needle in your back, and that’s often required if you have bad head trauma, severe strokes, and for some other conditions,” Professor Morgan said.
“We’re working closely with NASA and other space agencies because this is a big problem in space when you go into a low-gravity or zero-gravity environment. The ramifications on Earth are very important because instead of a patient having a head injury, coming to the emergency department and then having to go to theatre to have a drill hole in their head, we’re hoping that one day in the near future they’ll use our device, get an answer within 15 minutes, and avoid theatre, get the urgent treatment that they need there and then.”
Professor Morgan heads the Space Medicine node of the International Space Centre. This group focuses on: modified photoplethysmography (PPG) for retinal pulse wave measurement; non-invasive ICP measurement using PPG; PPG in eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes and retinal vein occlusion; microgravity effects upon body fluid systems, and a range of other topics.
Professor Morgan, one of the authors of a published paper, Zero retinal vein pulsation amplitude extrapolated model in non-invasive intracranial pressure estimation, is heavily involved with the International Space Centre at UWA, serving on their advisory board as well as working with NASA to help explore the issues of astronauts experiencing vision loss after being in space.