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Gastric Bypass Surgery Can Cause Eye Problems And Blindness

The epidemic of obesity sweeping the United States has led to an
increasing incidence of gastric bypass surgery, which may be connected to
eye problems.

The reason for this is that gastric bypass surgery can lead to vitamin A
deficiency which can cause night blindness, tear deficiency, and scarring
in the cornea.

Vitamin A Deficiency After Gastric Bypass

A 39 year old woman complained of night blindness, dry eyes, and blurry
vision. She was examined by several eye doctors who diagnosed her with
severe dry eye. They could find no obvious reason for her condition, but
after further questioning she revealed that she had gastric bypass surgery
three years ago and had stopped taking her recommended multivitamin pills
a few months after the surgery.

A blood test showed that her vitamin A levels were virtually zero, which
resulted in a condition called xerophthalmia that is normally seen only in
severely malnourished residents of third world countries.

Liqid vitamin A supplements gradually improved her night vision but it
took an entire year for her vision to return to 20/20 again.

Gastric bypass surgery and the changes in diet that accompany it can lead
to vitamin deficiencies. A recent study revealed that 52 percent of
gastric bypass patients experience vitamin A deficiency one year after
surgery, and this rises to 69 percent of patients four years after surgery.

Patients that complain of vision that is worsening, especially at night,
and have had recent gastric bypass surgery may need to have their vitamin
A levels tested.

Researchers advise that patients who have had the operation maintain
adequate vitamin supplementation to avoid this potentially blinding
complication of gastric bypass surgery.

In summary, vitamin A deficiency is rare in industrialized nations but
remains a concern in developing countries, particularly in areas where
malnutrition is common.

Gastric bypass surgery is a new cause of vitamin A deficiency in the
developed world. Prolonged deficiency of vitamin A can lead to
xerophthalmia (dry eye) and ultimately to night blindness or total
blindness if left untreated.