Monday, June 10, 2013

History of xerophthalmia

For thousands of years humans and animals have suffered from vitamin A deficiency, typified by night blindness and xerophthalmia.

Night blindness was described in ancient Egypt and was thus the earliest recognized deficiency disease. Eber’s papyrus an Egyptian medical treatise of between 1520 to 1600 BC, recommended eating roasts ox liver or liver of black cocks, to cure it.

The old Greek, Roman and Arab physicians recommended an internal and external, therapy, with livers of goats to overcome night blindness.

Celsus (25 BC to AD 50), s roman author on medicine, was the first to describe xerophthalmia but his recommendation for treatment did not mention liver.

The term ‘xerophthalmia’ was coined nearly 200 years ago to describe dry eyes – xeros in Greek means dryness.

Clinical descriptions of corneal xerophthalmia first appeared in England in the 18th century, followed by additional reports in the 19th century and early 20th centuries of its occurrence.

By the end of the nineteenth century, xerophthalmia was recognized in many parts of the world including continental Europe, the UK, the USA and some tropical countries.

Xerophthalmia has since become synonymous with the ocular manifestations of vitamin A deficiency.
History of xerophthalmia
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