Xerophthalmia

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Xerophthalmia is a progressive disease of the eye due to deficiency of vitamin A.

That this term refers to dryness may be inferred from the prefix "xero-" which means "dry", and is also a part of other terms listed in this section - listed on the left. That this term refers to the eye, i.e. dryness "of the eye" may be inferred from the suffix "-ophthalmia" because "ophthalmos" means "eye".


Xerophthalmia is sometimes (incompletely) defined just as "dry eyes".

Symptoms include the cornea and conjunctiva becoming extremely dry, thickened, and wrinkled. Contributory factors generally include deficiency of tears or conjunctival secretions. Xerophthalmia is also associated with Night Blindness.

If left untreated, xerophthalmia may also begin to affect the cornea in the form of keratoconjunctivis sicca and, if severe, progress to keratomalacia.

In the worst cases xerophthalmia might ultimately lead to blindness.

In addition to systemic deficiency of vitamin A, xerophthalmia may be exacerbated by trauma (such as injury) and / or by exposure.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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