Merck Manual

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(Xerotic Keratitis; Xerophthalmia)


Melvin I. Roat

, MD, FACS, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Topic Resources

Keratomalacia is degeneration of the cornea caused by nutritional deficiency.

Keratomalacia is caused by vitamin A deficiency typically in patients with protein-calorie undernutrition. It is characterized by a hazy, dry cornea. Corneal ulceration with secondary infection is common. The lacrimal glands and conjunctiva are also affected.

Lack of tears causes extreme dryness of the eyes, and foamy spots appear on the temporal and often nasal bulbar conjunctiva (Bitot spots). Night blindness may occur.

For further details, including specific therapy, see Vitamin A Deficiency.

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