Rare Genetic Condition Robs Twins of Vision

by Kathy Jones on Feb 14 2012 9:04 PM

 Rare Genetic Condition Robs Twins of Vision
In a rare case, a set of twin brothers have lost their vision within months of each other after suffering from a rare genetic disorder.
Michael and Dan Smith, 20, lost their complete vision due to a genetic disorder known as Leber's Optic Neuropathy which affects just a few hundred people. Michael first started to feel something was wrong with his vision while in his first year at Bart's and the London School of Medicine.

“My symptoms came on suddenly - one day I was in a lecture and I could not make out the projector in front of me, it was really hazy. I lost 70 percent to 80 percent of vision in my left eye in a very short space of time. I continued at medical school for a couple of weeks but it was taking me half an hour to read a page of A4 and I was breaking down in tears”, he said.

Though the doctors initially thought that Michael had a brain tumor, tests revealed that he was suffering from Leber's Optic Neuropathy. The doctors also informed Dan that there was a 70 percent chance that he too could be suffering from the same condition since they were twins.

“Knowing I could lose my sight was psychologically very, very tough. I had a pretty tough time knowing that this dark cloud was hanging over me during my first two years at university”, Dan said. Michael was unable to continue at medical school but is studying geography at King's College London and plans to become a disability lawyer when he graduates. Dan is continuing in aeronautical engineering and revealed that he wants to go into investment banking.