Retinol is vitamin A. Carotene compounds (found, for example, in egg yolk, butter and cream) are gradually converted by the body to vitamin A (retinol). A form of vitamin A called retinal is responsible for transmitting light sensation in the retina of the eye. Deficiency of vitamin A leads to night blindness.
The word "vitamin" was coined in 1911 by the Warsaw-born biochemist Casimir Funk (1884-1967). At the Lister Institute in London, Funk isolated a substance that prevented nerve inflammation (neuritis) in chickens raised on a diet deficient in that substance. He named the substance "vitamine" because he believed it was necessary to life and it was a chemical amine. The "e" at the end was later removed when it was recognized that vitamins need not be amines.