Ocular findings in cystic fibrosis patients receiving vitamin A supplementation

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 1995 Nov;233(11):709-13. doi: 10.1007/BF00164674.


Background: Vitamin A deficiency with eye symptoms has been reported in patients with cystic fibrosis who received the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Methods: We measured serum retinol, dark adaptation, contrast sensitivity, and dry eye status in 35 adult cystic fibrosis patients to ascertain whether they had ocular signs or symptoms.

Results: Median serum retinol concentration was 1.95 mumol/l, range 1.08-4.01 mumol/l, with no values indicating vitamin A deficiency. Retinal light sensitivity was normal. Nineteen patients had reduced contrast sensitivity. Conjunctival imprints all showed plenty of goblet cells, but were characteristic of dry eye in 42% of patients (n = 14). Decreased tear film stability was found in 49% (n = 17), tear production was low in 31% (n = 11), and 23% (n = 8) showed an increased amount of dying epithelial cells. Nine patients (26%) had keratoconjunctivitis sicca according to the Copenhagen criteria.

Conclusion: Our patients had no biochemical or clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency. We speculate that the high incidence of dry eye could be a primary manifestation of cystic fibrosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Color Vision Defects / etiology
  • Conjunctiva / pathology
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Cystic Fibrosis / blood
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca / etiology*
  • Male
  • Night Blindness / blood
  • Night Blindness / drug therapy*
  • Night Blindness / etiology
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / etiology
  • Xerophthalmia / blood
  • Xerophthalmia / drug therapy*
  • Xerophthalmia / etiology


  • Vitamin A