Does Weight Loss Affect Your Vision?

Dr. Jim Martin 10/02/2017

man's-feet-on-scale-bathroom.jpgThere are several health issues that can affect your vision and your eyesight.

Did you know your body's hormones can affect your vision, particularly the hormone fuxuations that occur during pregnancy or menopause?

Health problems like arthritis and diabetes can affect your vision, too, as well as some medications.

But what about weight loss? Can weight loss alter your eyesight?

Weight Loss Effects

For most people, weight loss has a positive impact on life. You look better, have more energy, feel better, and often reduce cholesterol and blood pressure when you lose weight.

There are, however, downsides to weight loss. For instance, losing a large amount of weight can alter your body's blood sugars, which could cause vision to deteriorate. Additionally, sometimes, through various weight loss means, many people begin to lose necessary vitamins, such as Vitamin A and B12. When the body becomes deficient in these vitamins, it can negatively affect your vision.

Vitamin A helps the cornea, mucous membranes and the skin form effective barriers against bacteria and viruses, thus reducing the risk of eye infections. Research has shown that vitamin A can also treat superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis, a form of eye inflammation. Additionally, when combined with other antioxidant vitamins, vitamin A has been shown to decrease the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration (AMD). A loss of vitamin A could potentially lead to eye infections, inflammations, dry eye symptoms and macular degeneration.

Vitamin B12, on the other hand, plays an important role in the nervous system. A lack of this crucial vitamin could lead to eye problems such as optical neuropathy, a condition caused by damage to optical nerve cells that results in a loss of vision; glaucoma, a condition in which pressure damages the optical nerves; AMD, a condition in which the center of the retina is damaged; or cataracts, a condition characterized by a cloudy lens. 

Although both vitamin A and vitamin B12 are typically derived from food sources, significant weight loss (particularly in the form of weight loss surgery) can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Baraitric surgery, for example, often involves manipulating the gut to shrink the stomach size. This manipulation can alter the natural absorption of nutrients. Additionally, many situations in which someone loses a significant amount of weight are related to dieting. Fad diets may help you shed pounds, but they are also known for a lack of food diversity and often don't contain enough nutrients.

This could occur through natural weight loss, but it often occurs more frequently with patients who have weight loss surgery. Also, 

Losing Weight Without Losing Vision

Potential vision problems should not be a deterent for losing weight. In fact, there are many ways you can prevent eye damage while dropping pounds. The easiest way to protect your vision is to
 lose weight properly and carefully under a doctor's care. Aim for losing a few pounds a week over a period of months rather than losing a lot of weight in a short period of time. Although we would prefer instant results, long-term weight loss is essential for avoiding nutrient deficiencies.

As you lose weight, also ensure you eat a diet rich in vitamins A and B12. Vitamin A can be derived from animal food sources (such as beef, chicken, whole milk and cheese) as well as from colorful fruits and vegetables (such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and cantelopes). When applicable, always choose the vegetable sources of vitamin A over the animal sources, as vitamin A is not water-soluble and can build up in the body and become toxic

To help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, consume enough animal foods and fortified foods. The best food sources of vitamin B12  include eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish and poultry. Additionally, some soy and rice products are fortified with vitamin B12. When you choose products, check the Nutrition Facts on the food label. The table will show you if the product contains vitamin B12.

You may also consider taking supplements to ensure you get enough vitamins A and B12, particularly if you eat a vegan or restrictive diet. Staying on top of vitamins and supplements can help prevent vision from worsening. To prevent vitamin A toxicity, experts recommend taking no more than 10,000 IU per day. Nutritionalists also recommend adults take 2.4 mcg vitamin B12 per day. 

Schedule regular doctor's visits throughout your weight loss process to check for signs of deficiency. You may also consider getting blood tests on a quarterly basis until you have reached your ideal weight. Although deficiencies can be scary, it is still better for your body to be at an optimal weight. Don't let fear of deficiency keep you from becoming healthier.

If you have Diabetes, you may experience even more vision problems. To see how diabetes can affect your vision, downloud our free infographic below.

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