We’ve seen that washing hands in space is quite a process, so just imagine how difficult it would be if astronauts needed to flush out a hazardous material caught in their eyes.
Without the ability to splash handfuls of water onto one’s face, astronauts on the International Space Station would be battling against a lack of gravity that balls up water into floating droplets. In some cases, using the balls of water might be effective, but in others a more continuous stream of water might be necessary.
What’s more, the European Space Agency pointed out that flinging water about in a weightless environment with expensive electrical equipment might not be the best idea.
Enter the eyewash goggles.
The goggles are connected to a solution that is pumped continually into the person’s eyes while it’s in use.
“It does not feel weird, but on the contrary it is good to know that we have these items onboard,” astronaut Alexander Gerst said, according to the ESA’s Space in Images series.
In a recent gap report, NASA noted that while this goggle system is important, it has some limitations. It said the Space Station Eyewash requires two people to operate and there is not currently a system to reuse the up to seven liters of water the system takes. NASA hopes to develop a reusable eyewash system that could be operated by a single user.
Thus far, NASA said no hazardous chemical or materials have been reported in astronauts’ eyes, requiring use of the system. Non-hazardous materials have been flushed using a small blob of floating water.