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March 1990

Vitamin A Deficiency and Xerophthalmia

Author Affiliations

Baltimore, Md

Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108(3):343-344. doi:10.1001/archopht.1990.01070050041026

Vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia are widely considered to be problems of developing countries. Indeed, more than 60 such countries are recognized by the World Health Organization as suffering from an aggregate 5 million new cases of xerophthalmia, one quarter million resulting in blindness, every year.1 The true number may be twice as large: recent data suggest that a significant proportion of measles-associated blindness, the major cause of pediatric blindness in Africa, is secondary to acute decompensation of borderline vitamin A status.2 The mechanism(s) by which vitamin A deficiency results in corneal ulceration and necrosis remains uncertain, but local sepsis appears to be a late and variable complication.3,4

See also pp 350 and 354.

Recent data suggest that vitamin A deficiency also has a profound impact on general morbidity,5 mortality,6-8 growth,8,9 and hematopoiesis.8,10 Even subclinical deficiency may have important implications for survival.11

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