H M Diwan Eye Foundation
58 Bankim Mukherjee Sarani
Kolkata 700053
Phone 6291540070
info@hmdef.org | www.hmdef.org

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Vitamin A & the Eye
Vitamin-Types
Vitamins are essential organic compounds that the human body cannot synthesize
Vitamins A, D, K, and E are classified as fat-soluble vitamins
Vitamins B complex and vitamin C are classified as water-soluble vitamins

Vitamin A is a vital component of ‘visual purple’, the pigment in our eyes which transforms light into visual signals. It is also an essential vitamin for maintaining the health of the skin and lining surfaces of the body as well as eyes.
Vitamin A is present in adequate quantities in green leafy vegetables and orange-yellow fruits and vegetables (spinach, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, ripe papaya, mango, beets).
Meat, liver and egg yolk also contains vitamin A.
Breast milk is deficient in vitamin A, and infants who are fed solely on mother’s milk beyond the age of 6 months, risk developing vitamin A deficiency. Other factors which contribute are malnutrition, diarrhoea and measles in older children. Vitamin deficiency is usually seen in children from a poor socioeconomic background where lack of nourishment, hygiene, and incomplete vaccination compound the problem.
The earliest sign of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. Parents may notice that the child bumps into objects in the dark although he or she may have normal vision in the day. In more severe disease, there is drying of the conjunctiva, often seen as a dry, grey, foamy patch next to the cornea. Advanced disease show as a lustreless cornea or even corneal melting (keratomalacia). This is a sight threatening condition. A balanced diet (traditional Indian diets which contains fruit and vegetables) is the best prevention. Vitamin A deficiency is easily corrected in the early stages by giving dietary supplements of vitamin A in food or as oral medication. Severe deficiency is treated with injections of vitamin A. The child is also treated for other underlying problems like malnutrition and diarrhoea.