A Spanish scientist has discovered the cause of a rare disease that turned him blind. Luis Carrasco, a microbiologist from Madrid’s Universidad Autonoma, started to lose his sight in 1994. It took him until 1999 to discover the name of the disease after unsuccessfully consulting 30 ophthalmologists and 60 specialists.
Then a British specialist, Alan Bird of London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, told him he had a rare type of eye disease called acute zonal occult outer retinopathy (Azoor). He told Mr Carrasco the cause of the disease was unknown and that there was no known treatment. But after six years of research, and having lost 99.9 per cent of his sight, Mr Carrasco, 56, has now discovered the cause.
His findings are published in this month’s edition of The Journal of Clinical Microbiology. “The phrase ‘you are going blind and we do not know why’ is unbearable,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. About 12,000 people are thought to suffer from the disease in Spain and between one million and two million worldwide.
Azoor is a condition in which the retina is affected by inflammation. It is caused by a fungus called Candida famata. Although medication is available to stop the spread of the fungus, Mr Carrasco’s vision has not yet improved.