Ophthalmological Diseases

Retinitis pigmentosa One randomised, double-blind trial found that people receiving 1 5 000 lU/day of vitamin A experienced a slowed rate of retinal function decline (Berson et al 1993). The mechanism responsible is poorly understood, but it is possible that vitamin A transport or the retention capacity of the retina is abnormal in retinitis pigmentosa or defects in the pigment epithelium involving vitamin-associated proteins occurs (Sharma & Ehinger 1999).

Clinical note— Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa describes a group of hereditary retinal dystrophies, characterised by the early onset of night-blindness followed by a progressive loss of the visual field. The underlying pathology is a defect that alters the function of the rod photoreceptor cell and subsequent degeneration of these cells (van Soest et al 1999)._

Xerophthalmia Xerophthalmia is responsible for at least half of all cases of measles-associated blindness and is the cause of at least half a million cases of paediatric blindness worldwide (Sommer 1998). This condition is associated with vitamin A deficiency and protein malnutrition.

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