Xerophthalmia is a medical condition in which the eye becomes abnormally dry and it is associated with vitamin A deficiency. This can develop into night blindness and can even cause more serious damage to the cornea.
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication, it is key for vision as an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors, and because it supports the normal differentiation and functioning of the conjunctival membranes and cornea. Vitamin A also supports cell growth and differentiation, playing a crucial role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
CAUSES OF XEROPHTHALMIA
Xerophthalmia is caused by the lack or deficiency of Vitamin A.
SYMPTOMS OF XEROPHTHALMIA
The symptoms of xerophthalmia include the following
- Night blindness(inability to see in dim light)
- Lesions form on the cornea
- Corneal ulcers
- Bitot’s spot (these are whitish spots on the palpebral conjunctiva, usually on the interpalpebral area)
WHO IS AT RISK OF XEROPHTHALMIA?
Children are most at risk of xerophthalmia, also lack of an adequate diet, poverty and inability to absorb vitamin A can make an individual to be at risk.
Inability to absorb vitamin A may result from:
- Liver disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Diseases (such as celiac disease that limit the absorption of nutrient
- Chronic diarrhea
A physical examination is done by the doctor through diet and symptoms incase of night blindness the doctor may start you on vitamin A therapy before conducting any blood test.
Vitamin A supplements can be used for an immediate treatment for xerophthalmia, and this can be taken by mouth or through injection. The dose intake of vitamin A varies according to age and general health condition or status of an individual.
Foods such as milk, grains, sugar, oil and fat can also be fortified with vitamin A
National institute of health recommended daily intake of vitamins based on age and gender is as follows:
|0–6 months||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|7–12 months||500 mcg||500 mcg|
|1–3 years||300 mcg||300 mcg|
|4–8 years||400 mcg||400 mcg|
|9–13 years||600 mcg||600 mcg|
|14 years and older||900 mcg||700 mcg|
These recommendations above are for people who are healthy and well-nourished. The doctor may utter the recommendation based on the need and medical condition of individuals.
Samuel Aluh received his Bachelor of Science degree from Osun State University Osogbo Osun State (UNIOSUN). . He also has professional certification in project management as well as in health safety and environment.
He is a young, vibrant and intelligent individual with a great passion for public health, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) and infectious disease.