[Bilateral corneal ulceration as a result of caloric-protein malnutrition and vitamin A deficit in a patient with chronic alcoholism, chronic pancreatitis and cholecystostomy]

Nutr Hosp. 2005 Jul-Aug;20(4):308-10.
[Article in Spanish]


Since the discovery of vitamins, there has been an increasing interest at relating vitamins with particular diseases. In particular, for vitamin A its singular importance has been determined in multiple vital functions, and its relationship with diseases, both in deficit and in excess, is nowadays completely demonstrated. In developed countries, vitamin deficiency-related diseases have been greatly reduced; however, in some patients with particular features they must be kept in mind. This is the case of a 45 year-old man, with a history of chronic alcoholism, non insulin-dependent diabetes meIlitus and cholecystectomy with a high biliary drainage secondary to emphysematous cholecystitis and perivesicular abscess. He complains of bilateral ocular pain, photophobia, and decreased visual acuity besides a history of pasty, sticky and foul-smelling feces. He is admitted in the Ophthalmology Department and bilateral corneal ulceration is diagnosed. A consultation to the Nutrition Department is made because of cachexia. Severe caloric and mil protein hyponutrition is observed with a BMI of 18.2 and a 23% weight loss for the last 6 months, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E) deficit, mild fat malabsorption, and macrocytic and hypochromic anemia. The patient's diet is supplemented with a special hyperproteinic and hypercaloric diet for diabetics, deficient vitamins and pancreatic enzymes to improve absorption are administered, and glycemia is controlled with insulin. Four months later, the patient is assessed and has a BMI of 20, anemia has resolved and from an ophthalmologic viewpoint the course is favorable, the ulcers improve and visual acuity is almost completely recovered. In chronic alcoholic patients with a low dietary intake and clinical complications with nutritional repercussions (pancreatitis that produces malabsorption or cholecystectomy with biliary percutaneous drainage) we should not forget that micronutrients deficits may explain the etiology of other associated diseases, in the present case corneal ulceration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Cholecystostomy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Corneal Ulcer / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Malnutrition / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy