An 11-year-old Canadian boy suffered vision loss from a rare case of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) as reported in the Journal of American Medical Association of Pediatrics.
Parents of the boy of east-Asian descent took him to the hospital over growing concerns that his vision was worsening over an eight-month period. In addition to vision loss, the boy also complained of dry eye.
Ophthalmologists found that the child had a restricted diet of potato, pork, lamb, apples, cucumber, and Cheerios due to his eczema and numerous food allergies. His vision was hand-motion only. Upon examination of the cornea, which is the outermost part of the eye responsible for refracting or focusing light, it appeared that there were opaque patches and inflammation.
After blood work was conducted, physicians found that the boys vitamin A levels were significantly below normal, measuring at 14.33 μg/dL (normal range, 25.79-48.71). The patient was immediately treated with high doses of vitamin A. While vision loss from VAD is often reversible, in this case, the boy suffered permanent vision loss due to optic atrophy or damage to the optic nerve.
“Conditions like this are rare in developed countries, and are thus often observed in underdeveloped countries where malnutrition is prevalent. You should always consult a physician before restricting your dietary intake. In general, having a proper diet rich in nutrients such as green leafy vegetables, omega fatty acids, zinc, lutein and carotenoids can have an impact on preserving healthy vision,” says cornea specialist, Jonathan Song, MD, MBA, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology.
According to data provided by World Health Organization, VAD is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and affects one third of children aged 6-59 months in underdeveloped countries in 2015 (see map below).
(Statistics of VAD-UNICEF global nutrition database, 2017, based on reports from 2015)
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By: Debbie Mitra