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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Xerophthalmia and measles in Kenya.

In many African countries measles is considered to be an important cause of blindness. On the basis of his observations in Kenya and Tanzania in 1972 Franken presumed, however, that in the majority of these cases xerophthalmia was the real cause of blindness, precipitated by the "catalyst" measles. In order to gain a better understanding of this important complicated problem, we performed in the first half of 1974 an investigation in Kenya into the prevalence of xerophthalmia. In December 1974 we had the opportunity to evaluate our Kenyan findings on Java, in the company of Dr. J. ten Doesschate and Professor H.A.P.C. Oomen. The results of this investigation in Kenya and Indonesia are presented in this thesis. (see article) 1. Xerophthalmia occurred nearly everywhere in Kenya in 1974. This demonstrates the prevalence of xerophthalmia in communities which - do not have rice but - have maize for their staplefood. 2. Xerophthalmia appears to be the main cause of blindness in Kenyan children. 3. Measles often plays - by means of local and general "catalysing" effects - an important role in the development of blindness caused by xerophthalmia. 4. In well-nourished children measles is of no consequence as a cause of blindness. 5. Vital staining by 1% rose bengal or 1% lissamine green appears to be a real asset for the early diagnosis of xerophthalmia in Health Centres and in field surveys. This method is therefore of great importance for the prevention of severe, blindness inducing vitamin A deficiency.[1]


  1. Xerophthalmia and measles in Kenya. Jacques, J., Sauter, M. Documenta ophthalmologica. Advances in ophthalmology. (1976) [Pubmed]
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