Skip to main content
Select Source:

Xerophthalmia

Xerophthalmia

Xerophthalmia is a severe drying of the eye surface caused by a malfunction of the tear glands. Also found in people with immune disorders, it occurs most commonly because of decreased intake or absorption of vitamin A. Symptoms include night blindness and eye irritation. In addition to the eyes being very dry, there is a loss of luster on their surface. At later stages, the corneas become soft, with increased opacity .

Rarely seen in industrialized countries, xerophthalmia remains the leading cause of childhood blindness in the developing world. Up to ten million cases occur among children every year due to a dietary deficiency of vitamin A, and 5 percent of these children become blind.

Xerophthalmia is treated with artificial eye moisturizers and vitamin A supplementation. In 1999 a genetically engineered form of rice was created that contains up to 20 percent beta-carotene, a rich source of vitamin A. It is hoped that this grain, known as golden rice, will alleviate much of the world's vitamin A deficiency. However, critics maintain that the volume of rice needed to reach the daily recommended amount of vitamin A is too excessive to be practical. In addition, lingering concerns about the safety of genetically engineered foods may affect its use.

see also Beta-Carotene; Carotenoids; Vitamins, Fat-Soluble.

Chandak Ghosh

Internet Resources

National Institutes of Health Clinic Center. "Vitamin A and Carotenoids." Available from <www.cc.nih.gov>

Merck Manual. "Vitamin A Deficiency." Available from <www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual>

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Xerophthalmia." Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Xerophthalmia." Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/food/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/xerophthalmia

"Xerophthalmia." Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/food/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia (zeer-off-thal-miă) n. a progressive nutritional disease of the eye due to deficiency of vitamin A. The cornea and conjunctiva become dry, thickened, and wrinkled. This may progress to keratomalacia and eventual blindness.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia Advanced vitamin A deficiency in which the epithelium of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye deteriorates because of impairment of the tear glands, resulting in dryness then ulceration, leading to blindness.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia

xerophthalmia See vitamin A.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia

"xerophthalmia." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/xerophthalmia