Doctors also worried the miners could suffer blood clots and even heart attacks on ascent; they sent aspirin down to the miners to thin their blood prior to the journey.
Once the miners emerge from the shaft, those who are rescued during daylight hours will wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the blazing Atacama Desert sun. The glasses will ease the magnified exposure to UVA and UVB light.
"[The miners'] extended exposure to darkness may make them more light-sensitive than most people who would be if dark-adapted, but it will not take them long to adjust," said Dr. Ivan Schwab, professor of ophthalmology at University of California Davis School of Medicine and director of corneal services at UC Davis Medical Center. "I also suspect that the overwhelming joy of the miners and their families will quickly limit their brief light sensitivity."
Doctors are giving each miner a primary health exam to ensure that their vital signs are stable and intact. The miners will then go to the hospital for another exam, which will include blood work and a check for skin and respiratory infections. Vitamin levels, especially Vitamin D, will be checked and regulated if necessary with supplements.
"There's also the risk of reactivating certain viruses after a high-stress situation [like] Epstein-Barr, herpes viruses, chicken pox," said Dr. James Polk, NASA's chief of space medicine.
Doctors have reportedly sent down vaccines for pneumonia and influenza, which were administered by one of the miners.
And the Chilean government has already said that each of the miners will have access to mental health professionals for at least six months after their rescue.
Many mental health professionals said a major psychiatric concern is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD -- an anxiety disorder sometimes brought on by traumatic events such as natural disasters, accidents, personal assaults, or military combat. Symptoms include flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, difficulty sleeping and emotional numbness.
"There may also be depression or guilt reactions to how they reacted while being confined and how people treated each other," said Dr. Howard Zonana, professor of psychiatry at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. "Not everyone reacts in a fashion they are proud of when facing what must have seemed like imminent death."
But PTSD symptoms may not be apparent right away, if at all, in many of the rescued miners. Some just may be happy to be home.
"It is possible only to say that the psychiatric issues are not likely to be immediate unless there is a lot of anger being directed toward the company or government," said Zonana. "Reunion with families and the support from them will most likely be the initial reactions to survival."