Xerophthalmia: Findings from the Eye Lead to Diagnosis of a Fatal Intestinal Disease

Vitamin A has an essential role in the maintenance of corneal and conjunctival epithelization, as well as photoreceptor transduction in the retina. A deficiency of vitamin A causes keratinization of the surface epithelium, and night blindness is often the first symptom. This report describes a case of chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO), a rare and potentially fatal disease, diagnosed following detection of a vitamin A deficiency in an ophthalmological examination. A 25-yearold female patient presented with a 3-month history of dryness, a burning sensation, and decreased vision, especially at night, in both eyes. She appeared cachectic and ill, and reported having lost 10 kg in the previous year. An ophthalmological examination revealed conjunctival and corneal keratinization in addition to punctate keratopathy with xerosis in both eyes, which raised the suspicion of a vitamin A deficiency. Her serum vitamin A level confirmed the diagnosis, and she was referred to the gastroenterology clinic, where she was diagnosed with CIPO and treated with parenteral multivitamin supplementation. A vitamin A deficiency should be suspected in patients with malnourishment and xerosis. Rapid diagnosis and treatment can be life-saving in cases with a severe underlying pathology.

Kaynakça

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