NASA Technology Inspires Cataract-Detection Device

January 9, 2009
A compact fiber-optic probe developed for the space program will be used as the first noninvasive, early detection device for cataracts. The National Eye Institute and NASA collaborated to develop the test for measuring depletion of the alpha-crystalline protein, which serves as the eye’s own anti-cataract molecule. The device was initially developed to analyze the growth of protein crystals in a zero-gravity space environment. The technology can detect the earliest damage to lens proteins, which can trigger an early warning for cataract formation and blindness, according to the NIH.