Dr. Dan Bintz and Dr. Jerry Carter Assisting NASA in New Eye Health Study On Board the International Space Station

1984 OCO alumni Dr. Dan Bintz and Dr. Jerry Carter designed, created, and wrote a digital eye chart computer program known as Acuity Pro. It is currently being used in a scientific study conducted by NASA which began on the International Space Station in April, 2013. The two-year health study will begin shortly after the last three astronauts involved in Expedition 35 arrive at the International Space Station. The launch of the Soyuz TMA-08M from Kazakhstan occurred on March 28. It is installed on all the laptops of the Space Station.

Acuity Pro was developed to replace the bulb projector used to check visual acuity. By using a computer, doctors can randomize the eye chart, vary the number of letters shown and perform many functions that bulb projectors cannot do. It is the industry leader in computer generated eye charts and the same software on the space station is used in thousands of eye clinics all over the world, including the majority of NSUOCO’s clinics. Acuity Pro has been available since 2000.

The study is focused on decreased visual acuity that astronauts seem to experience due to long term exposure to microgravity while in space. This is the first experiment to investigate micro gravity-induced visual impairment/intracranial pressure or VIIP Syndrome. According to NASA, about 20 percent of astronauts who have flown to the International Space Station have reported some type of vision changes with varying degrees of severity and permanence.

“Scientists are aware that astronauts have developed vision modifications while in space,” said Dr. Bintz. “In the past, this issue has not been able to be addressed until astronauts return to earth. Now, with Acuity Pro, NASA has the ability to monitor visual alterations in real time to determine when changes begin, how they progress and specific astronauts who are affected. Dr. Carter and I are proud to be a part of this research and for Oklahoma to be represented in such an important endeavor.”

“NASA first approached us last year with the idea of using Acuity Pro on the International Space Station,” said Dr. Carter. “They wanted a software product that would test acuity, contrast sensitivity and macular function so they would not have to add any existing equipment to an already crowded space station. Acuity Pro was the perfect solution,” added Carter.

“This is just another example of the amazing work being done by optometric physicians here in our state,” said Saundra Naifeh, chief executive officer of OAOP. “Not only are our members helping people all across Oklahoma with their eye health, but now astronauts in space!”

Dr. Bintz said, “We feel it’s a great story that promotes Oklahoma, Oklahoma optometry (and optometry in general), Oklahoma’s optometry school, careers in science and optometry and the space program (which has had enormous downsizing).” Dr. Bintz has practiced optometry in Elk City since opening his practice in 1984. He is a past president for OAOP and served on association’s board of directors, is currently the chair of the American Optometric Association’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Project Team and is a past chair of the Oklahoma Diabetes Coalition. Immediately following the May 20 tornado in the Moore, Oklahoma, area Dr. Bintz volunteered to loan copies of Acuity Pro to be used on laptop computers for those ODs checking vision or doing refractions for survivors.

Dr. Carter practiced in Bartlesville for 26 years. He participated as a Gold Standard doctor for the National Eye Institute’s Vision in Preschool Study and was an Adjunct Professor at the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry (NSUOCO) for more than 20 years. Since Dr. Carter’s recent retirement he has built and moved into a new house and is working on a new version of Acuity Pro. He and Dr. Bintz have promoted Acuity Pro at Expo East in New York, AAPOS (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus) and SECO, as well as other venues.

Watch Channel 9 news cast video (address below) about this amazing contribution.http://www.news9.com/category/116601/video-page?clipId=8720340&autostart=true