Pick Eye Linked to Riboflavin Deficiency
Conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”) is an inflammation or infection of the outer most layer of the eye, the conjunctiva.
There are basically two conditions that cause conjunctivitis: an allergy or by infection (usually viral, but may also be caused by bacteria.)
The idea that a Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency plays a part in conjunctivitis is not a new one. Back in 1938, research showed that vascularization of the cornea was the “most reliable criterion of riboflavin deficiency.”
Later, research done in 1941 continued work along these lines by confirming the following:
“Riboflavin deficient rats show alopecia [hair loss], dermatitis at the denuded areas of the skin, rough hair, conjunctivitis, keratitis [inflamed cornea; usually very painful], and premature senility.”
1941 Research Proved True in 2004!
However, it wasn’t until more recently that a study, done by Japanese scientists in 2004, using scanning (SEM) and transmission (TEM) electron microscopes on rats with riboflavin deficiency, proved the damage done to the surface of the eye.
Specifically to superficial epithelium of the conjunctiva where conjunctivitis occurs as well as a decrease in the number of goblet cells on the epithelium surface (a decrease in goblet cells are associated with a condition known as Dry Eye.)
The research also showed that recovery from riboflavin deficiency corresponded to a reversal of the damage to eye,
“…the conjunctiva and cornea showed no abnormalities.”
The conclusion of this study is the following:
“Riboflavin plays a role in the development and maintenance of the surface structures of epithelial cells. Riboflavin may also be necessary for the development and maintenance of goblet cells. Riboflavin is essential for maintaining the structure and function of the ocular surface.”