Dryness of the eye due to a dietary deficiency of vitamin A
- More common in young children but can occur at any age
- Caused by a diet low in vitamin A
- Gender and genetics are not significant factors
Xerophthalmia, which occurs mainly in developing countries, means dryness of the eye. The condition is caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin A (see Nutritional deficiencies).
Left untreated, xerophthalmia leads to chronic (long-term) infection and the transparent cornea at the front of the eye may soften and perforate. Infection may then spread inside the eye and blindness may result. Artificial tears may relieve dryness, but the main treatment is vitamin A.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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