Xerophthalmia and anterior-segment blindness among preschool-age children in El Salvador

Am J Ophthalmol. 1975 Dec;80(6):1066-72. doi: 10.1016/0002-9394(75)90337-2.


A countrywide prevalence survey of 9,508 children was conducted in El Salvador to determine the prevalence of anterior-segment abnormalities and magnitude of clinical vitamin A deficiency. Thirty-six children had corneal opacities, 56% of them secondary to trauma. Such traumatic corneal opacities were 19 times more frequent among urban than rural children, 57.6 vs. 3.1 per 1,000. Keratomalacia accounted for only 8% of all corneal opacities, and for one (and possibly two) of the five cases of bilateral anterior-segment blindness encountered. The prevalance of Bitot spots and vitamin-A-related corneal opacities was 5.3 and 3.2 per 10,000, respectively. There are an estimated 43 new surviving cases of vitamin-A-related corneal opacities in the country each year, one third of which result in bilateral blindness. Fifteen percent of all children examined had grossly purulent conjunctivitis.

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conjunctivitis / epidemiology
  • Corneal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology
  • Corneal Opacity / epidemiology
  • Corneal Opacity / etiology
  • El Salvador
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Xerophthalmia / epidemiology*