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Vitamin A deficiency due to chronic malabsorption: an ophthalmic manifestation of a systemic condition
  1. James Cheshire1,
  2. Sai Kolli2
  1. 1 Department of Ophthalmology, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James Cheshire, james.cheshire{at}


A 47-year-old woman presented with a 4-week history of progressive loss of vision, first manifesting as night blindness. Additionally, the patient reported frequent severe episodes of diarrhoea over the past month. Her medical history included end-stage renal failure for which she was currently on haemodialysis after a failed renal transplant, chronic pancreatitis and autonomic diabetes mellitus. Ophthalmological examination revealed severe bilateral corneal xerosis, bilateral Bitot’s spots and inferior ulceration of the right cornea. A diagnosis of xerophthalmia due to vitamin A deficiency was made, most likely due to the presence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and the patient’s chronic malabsorptive state. Standard management using oral vitamin A tablets was ineffective, resulting in the patient requiring intravenous supplementation. The extent of visual deterioration on presentation and the difficulties encountered managing the patient resulted in the patient’s vision failing to improve.

  • Ophthalmology
  • Malnutrition

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  • Contributors JC and SK contributed equally to the design of the work and acquisition of the data. Both JC and SK contributed equally to the drafting of the work, and both approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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