Sun, 06 Mar 2005


Scientist discovers cause of his own blindness

A Spanish scientist who went blind discovered the cause of his retinal disease, making it possible to treat up to two million sufferers worldwide, the daily El Pais reported on Feb. 16.

Luis Carrasco, 55, microbiology professor at Madrid's Autonomous University, began losing his eyesight in 1994. Dozens of doctors were unable to diagnose his disease, until a British specialist told him he was suffering from the acute zonal occult outer retinopathy (AZOOR), a condition whose cause was not known.

Carrasco discovered that AZOOR was caused by the yeast Candida famata.

"One of the few advantages of having the disease I am investigating is that I can follow its evolution day by day, hour by hour," he explained.

The discovery of the cause made it possible to medicate the disease, preventing it from spreading in the brain and the nervous system. Carrasco even believes he could recover a part of his eyesight.

Between one and two million people suffer from AZOOR and similar conditions worldwide, according to figures quoted by El Pais.

"I prefer to be blind and to know the cause than to see and not know it," said the professor, whose findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. -- DPA