Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

January 17, 2019

March 06, 2020


What is xerophthalmia?

Xerophthalmia, also known as dry eye syndrome, is a condition that typically characterises an early deficiency of vitamin A. However, it is essential to understand that not all individuals with vitamin A deficiency will manifest symptoms of xerophthalmia. Some diseases, medications and a few other factors may also lead to xerophthalmia. In xerophthalmia, the cornea, which is the outermost layer of the eye, becomes dry and scaly. The affected eye becomes more prone to infection. It can occur in individuals of all age groups.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The signs and symptoms listed below may be associated with xerophthalmia:

What are the main causes?

The two vitamin A-related causes of xerophthalmia include:

  • Xerophthalmia due to less intake of vitamin A in the diet, which is commonly observed in developing countries
  • Xerophthalmia unrelated to the intake of vitamin A in the diet, but due to improper breakdown and storage of vitamin A

The other causes of xerophthalmia are:

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The doctor makes the diagnosis in the following manner:

  • Detailed medical history of the individual
  • Examination of the eye
  • Blood tests to check for deficiency of vitamin A

The doctor may recommend the following to treat xerophthalmia:

  • Vitamin A supplementation to normalise the level of vitamin A in the body
  • Prescription eye drops to prevent drying out of the eye
  • Artificial tears as lubricants
  • Warm compresses
  • Eyelid massage

The following steps ensure the appropriate management of xerophthalmia:

  • Increasing the dietary intake of vitamin A
  • Fortification of food with vitamin A
  • Dietary supplementation with vitamin A.


  1. Feroze KB, Kaufman EJ. Xerophthalmia. [Updated 2019 Jan 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  2. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Xerophthalmia
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology [internet] California, United States; Vitamin A Deficiency - Asia Pacific.
  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology [internet] California, United States; Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment.
  5. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Xerophthalmia and night blindness for the assessment of clinical vitamin A deficiency in individuals and populations.