Xerophthalmia is a condition of the eye caused by an extreme systemic vitamin A (retinol) deficiency disorder (or VADD). The eye becomes increasingly thick and dry due to keratinization (hardening due to keratin deposits). Blindness usually occurs unless preventive treatment occurs.

Xerophthalmia is the leading cause of childhood blindness in the world. Vitamin A deficiency is a serious public health issue and has reached epidemic proportions in parts of the developing world where diets are based on staples low in vitamin A, such as Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, and Latin America. Xerophthalmia appears primarily under conditions of chronically poor diets deficient in vitamin A. Children younger than 5 years suffer the most from xerophthalmia. Infections such as measles, parasites, and diarrheal disease stress young children’s ...

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