Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the optimal functioning of our eyes. It plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision and preventing various eye diseases. However, a deficiency of vitamin A can have harmful effects.

It plays a crucial role in the formation and maintenance of the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause dryness and opacity in the cornea, known as xerophthalmia, which can lead to the formation of ulcers. This condition can result in decreased vision and even blindness in severe cases.

In addition to its role in the cornea, vitamin A is necessary for the production of visual pigments in the retina, which are essential for light and colour perception. A deficiency of vitamin A can negatively affect the ability to adapt to darkness and reduce night vision, known as night blindness.

The lack of vitamin A can also weaken the ocular immune system, increasing the risk of eye infections such as conjunctivitis. Additionally, it can contribute to the development of cataracts.

It is important to note that vitamin A deficiency is more common in areas with limited access to a balanced and varied diet. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to a lack of this vitamin. Supplementation with vitamin A and the consumption of foods rich in this vitamin, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and mangoes, can help prevent deficiency and maintain good ocular health.

In summary, vitamin A deficiency can have detrimental effects on ocular health, including dry eyes, night blindness, corneal ulcers, increased risk of eye infections, and the development of cataracts. Maintaining an adequate intake of vitamin A through a balanced diet is essential to prevent these problems and maintain optimal vision throughout life.

Dr. Alberto Lozano, ophthalmologist at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre