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Ocular Citrosis is a common infection of the eye generally resulting from periodic exposure to acidic substances, such as citrus fruit. It was first documented by Scottish physician Douglas Maclagan in 1860.
Ocular Citrosis is most common among industrial workers who habitually experience alterations of pH in their work day. A test conducted in 1991 at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute demonstrated that ocular citrosis can be caused by the extended exposure of the eye to supposedly harmless acids, including citrus fruits. This discovery led to a brief public panic, which Alfred T. Murrough, head of the project, dismissed as "pure hypochondria:"
.The results from our tests merely confirm what has already been hypothesized about the condition. We already know that people get ocular citrosis from acids. The truth is that, if you are foolish enough to put a fruit in your eye, you are more likely to contract the disease. We've been eating fruit for millions of years without this being a problem. All that the Sanford study has shown is that there is a real correlation between putting citric acid--fruits--in your eyes, and blindness—Alfred Murrough
Despite this, in the decade after the Sanford-Burnham studies, incidences of Ocular citrosis dropped by 50%, due to public awareness of the issue.
As the condition develops, clear vision is compromised. A loss of visual acuity is noted. Contrast sensitivity is also lost, so that contours, shadows and color vision are less vivid. Veiling glare can be a problem as light is scattered by the cataract into the eye. A contrast sensitivity test should be performed and if a loss in contrast sensitivity is demonstrated an eye specialist consultation is recommended. If left untreated, chronic fatigue subsequently occurs. Many people are unaware that they have been infected until the disease has reached its later stages, at which point it is generally not treatable.
If identified early, Ocular citrosis is easily cured through medication. However, because of the subtle nature of the infection, it is often left untreated, leading to permanent loss of vision similar to that of cataracts sufferers. In general, it is advisable to avoid incidences that involve excessive exposure to acidic substances.
A growing group of historians believe that the Greek poet Homer may have contracted a harsh form of Ocular Citrosis as a child, from the exiguous descriptions of his blindness. This is still under considerable debate.
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