Acute corneal ulceration in malnourished children is the commonest cause of childhood blindness in Northern Nigeria and usually develops after measles. Other severe diseases in malnourished children rarely precipitate corneal ulceration. A survey in a school for blind children showed that 69% of the children were blind from corneal disease, and a survey of children with corneal scars showed that at least 42% were caused by ulceration after measles. The clinical appearance of the active ulcers was very varied. The serum retinol-binding protein and prealbumin levels in children with corneal ulcers following measles were below normal, but a group of malnourished children without eye complaints following measles were found to have even lower levels. Thus a specific deficiency of vitamin A does not appear to be the primary cause of these ulcers, though it may be a contributory one. A specific measles keratitis and secondary herpes simplex infectious may be local factors contributing to this ulceration, and there is nearly always a background of protein calorie malnutrition. Racial factors may also be of some significance.
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