One hundred and thirty Tanzanian children with corneal ulceration were clinically examined to determine the cause of the ulceration. 37% of the ulcers were associated with recent measles infection and 38% of the children had bilateral ulceration. Herpes simplex virus infection was the commonest cause of ulceration in the series, but vitamin A deficiency was the major cause of bilateral ulceration, subsequent blindness, and mortality in this series. Other significant causes of childhood corneal ulceration were the use of traditional eye medicines, confluent measles keratitis, and ophthalmia neonatorum. We discuss the various mechanisms by which measles causes corneal ulceration, and the priorities in prevention and management of corneal ulceration in African children.
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