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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Vitamin A deficiency due to chronic malabsorption: an ophthalmic manifestation of a systemic condition

James Cheshire, Sai Kolli
BMJ Case Reports 2017 May 10, 2017
28490481
A 47-year-old woman presented with a 4-week history of progressive loss of vision, first manifesting as night blindness. Additionally, the patient reported frequent severe episodes of diarrhoea over the past month. Her medical history included end-stage renal failure for which she was currently on haemodialysis after a failed renal transplant, chronic pancreatitis and autonomic diabetes mellitus. Ophthalmological examination revealed severe bilateral corneal xerosis, bilateral Bitot's spots and inferior ulceration of the right cornea. A diagnosis of xerophthalmia due to vitamin A deficiency was made, most likely due to the presence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and the patient's chronic malabsorptive state. Standard management using oral vitamin A tablets was ineffective, resulting in the patient requiring intravenous supplementation. The extent of visual deterioration on presentation and the difficulties encountered managing the patient resulted in the patient's vision failing to improve.

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