Xerosis-Symptoms,Prevention And Treatment.
Xerosis (conjunctival xerosis) is the abnormal dryness of the eye. They are also known as Xerophthalmia and night blindness; these are eye diseases which is mostly common in children between 2 and 5 years of age.
It comes from not eating enough foods with vitamin A. If not recognized and treated early, it can make the child blind.
- At first, the child may have night blindness. He or she cannot see well in the dark as other people can.
- Later, he or she develops dry eyes (xerosis or xerophthalmia). The white part of the eyes loses its shine and begins to wrinkle.
- Patches of little gray bubbles (Bitot’s spots) may form in the eyes.
- As the disease gets worse, the cornea also becomes dry and dull, and may develop little pits.
- Then the cornea may quickly grow soft, bulge or even burst. Usually, there is no pain. Blindness may result from infection, scarring or other damage.
- Xerosis often begins or gets worse when a child is sick with another illness like diarrhea, whooping cough or measles. Examine the eyes of all sick and underweight children.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Xerosis can easily be prevented by eating foods that contain vitamin A. Do the following :
- Breast feed the baby up to 2 years if possible.
- After the first 6 months, begin giving the child foods rich in vitamin A, such as red palm oil, mango, pawpaw or dark green leafy vegetables. Whole milk, eggs and liver are also rich in vitamin A.
- If the child is not likely to get these foods, or if he or she is developing signs and symptoms of night blindness or xerosis, give him or her a capsule of vitamin A, 200,000 units (60 mg retinol) once every 6 months. Babies under 1 year of age should get 100,000 units.
- If the condition is already fairly severe, give the child 200,000 units of vitamin A the first day, then 200,000 units the second day and 200,000 units 14 days later. Babies under 1 year should get half that amount.
- If the cornea is seen to be bulging, protect the eyes with a bandage and get medical help urgently.
- In communities where xerophthalmia is common, give 200,000 units of vitamin A once every 6 months to women who are breast feeding and also to pregnant women during the second half of pregnancy.
WARNING : Too much vitamin A is poisonous. Do not give more than the amount advised here.
Dark green leafy vegetables and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables prevent blindness in children.