Vitamin A deficiency- the agony of Xerophthalmia

If you’ve ever wondered how severe a vitamin deficiency can get, then this is a crystal clear illustration- one that affects millions of innocent children every year.

From Pages 279-280 NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL DEGENERATION. Weston Price 1939. (One of the Founding Fathers of Modern Nutrition)

Another illustration of the wisdom of the native Indians of that far north country came to me through two prospectors whom we rescued and brought out with us just before the fall freeze-up…..(who got stranded and had to abandon their provisions. BB)……. One of the men told me the following tragic story. While they were crossing the high plateau he nearly went blind with so violent a pain in his eyes that he feared he would go insane. It was not snow blindness, for they were equipped with glasses. It was xerophthalmia, due to lack of vitamin A. One day he almost ran into a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs. Fortunately, they did not attack him but moved off. He sat down on a stone and wept in despair of ever seeing his family again. As he sat there holding his throbbing head, he heard a voice and looked up. It was an old Indian who had been tracking that grizzly bear. He recognized this prospector’s plight and while neither could understand the language of the other, the Indian after making an examination of his eyes, took him by the hand and led him to a stream that was coursing its way down the mountain. Here as the prospector sat waiting the Indian built a trap of stones across the stream. He then went upstream and waded down splashing as he came and thus drove the trout into the trap. He threw the fish out on the bank and told the prospector to eat the flesh of the head and the tissues back of the eyes, including the eyes, with the result that in a few hours his pain had largely subsided. In one day his sight was rapidly returning, and in two days his eyes were nearly normal. He told me with profound emotion and gratitude that that Indian had certainly saved his life.

Now modern science knows that one of the richest sources of vitamin A in the entire animal body is that of the tissues back of the eyes including the retina of the eye.

(end of quotation).

See WHO http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/index.html

  • An estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient and it is likely that in vitamin A deficient areas a substantial proportion of pregnant women are vitamin A deficient.
  • An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.

Many charities donate vitamin A to poor communities to prevent eye disease and save lives, you can use Google to find them- here are 2 Australian charities:

http://www.hollows.org/Assets/Files/info_sheet_childhood_blindness.pdf

http://www.cbm.org.au/Content.aspx?id=56

Reference on Vitamin A deficiency:

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/314/7077/317

http://www.micronutrient.org/work2/childsurvival/supplement.asp

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