Weight-loss Surgery Linked With Vision Loss?

Written by Dr. David Evans   Last modified on August 6, 2018

I came across an interesting story I wanted to share that actually has a bit of crossover with another educational resource my company publishes called Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery.


A 40-something woman in Texas suffered vision loss and developed lesions on her eyes as an indirect result of a bariatric procedure she had a year prior. Eye pain and distorted vision caused her to seek out medical aid. It was discovered that her vision problems were the result of a severe vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency in the U.S. is quite rare, typically affecting people (often children) in the developing world. So how did the weight loss procedure cause a vitamin A deficiency?

The bariatric procedure that the woman underwent for weight loss (duodenal switch surgery) not only shrinks the size of the stomach, but also bypasses a section of small intestine. The intestines do the heavy lifting for the body when it comes to the absorption of nutrients. Bypassing the small intestines therefore can cause deficiencies when it comes to things like vitamin A absorption. In fact, vitamin deficiency is a known side effect of this type of bariatric surgery, one which the woman was warned about. Even though she had been taking a multivitamin, she still experienced significant enough vitamin A deficiency that her vision was compromised.

Vitamin A plays a vital role in vision health. It helps to protect the cornea (surface of the eye) and is an essential ingredient in many brands of eye drops used to treat dry eye. Vitamin A also helps decrease the risk of developing serious vision problems like macular degeneration.

Fortunately for the woman, her condition was addressed before the deficiency caused any serious or lingering vision problems. Treatment with an IV restored her vitamin balance and she has reportedly recovered fully.

Her story was published in a recent issue of JAMA Ophthalmology and serves as an important reminder that there are risks associated with all medical procedures. There are many health benefits associated with weight loss surgery, but it’s an invasive procedure that essentially alters the body’s natural function. It is incredibly important to follow all post-treatment instructions provided by your surgeon, and to report any issues experienced thereafter.

Read the complete article here: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/04/08/womans-weight-loss-surgery-leads-to-vision-loss.html