What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?
Vitamin A is found in many foods like:
- leafy green vegetables
- orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)
- eggs, and
Vitamin A plays an important role in your vision. To see the full spectrum of light, your eye needs to produce certain pigments for your retina to work properly. Vitamin A deficiency stops the production of these pigments, leading to night blindness. Your eye also needs vitamin A to nourish other parts of your eye, including the cornea. Without enough vitamin A, your eyes cannot produce enough moisture to keep them properly lubricated.
Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind every year because of vitamin A deficiency. Half of these children die within a year of losing their sight.
In pregnant women, vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness and may contribute to maternal mortality. Vitamin A deficiency also harms the immune system (the body’s ability to fight disease). This increases the chance of death from malaria, measles and diarrhea.
Who is at risk for vitamin A deficiency?
Vitamin A deficiency is a big problem in developing nations in Africa and Southeast Asia. Young children and pregnant women in low income countries are at highest risk.