CBS News reports on a surgery gone wrong. One woman went in for a weight loss surgery but came out with a consequence of vision loss as well.
The patient is only in her 40s. She was having vision problems in the past few weeks so she went to an ophthalmology clinic. She was having pain in her eyes and lesions around them. Little did she know what was really causing it.
She had recently underwent weight-loss surgery and started to experience vitamin deficiency soon after. Then the vitamin deficiency soon led to vision loss and lesions around her eyes. Her case was recently published via a report in JAMA Ophthalmology.
What is this vitamin deficiency that the patient is experiencing?
The deficiency stems from lack of Vitamin A after the patient’s weight loss surgery.
Kirkland, the author of the report, explains, “Vitamin A plays an important role in eye health, and deficiency can lead to severe dryness of the eye, night blindness and lesions called ‘Bitot spots’ that form on the surface of the eye. He further said that these ‘raised bumpy lesions form on the white part of a person's eye, called the sclera’. The lesions don't affect a person's vision, but the process that causes the lesions to form leads to severe dryness, ‘which can alter vision’.
Are Vitamin A deficiencies common in the United States?
Kirkland says that it is rare for people in the U.S. to have a vitamin A deficiency, especially one that is severe enough to cause eye problems. It is actually quite easy to get enough Vitamin A from our every day diets.
The patient in the case at hand took on her Vitamin A deficiency after her weight loss (bariatric) surgery. In her surgery the surgeon not only made the stomach smaller but also created a bypass section around the small intestine. The small intestine is where nutrients from consumed foods are absorbed into the body. The woman was not absorbing enough nutrients anymore after the surgery, particularly Vitamin A.
The woman was told to take a multivitamin, as she would not absorb as many nutrients anymore after the surgery; but the multivitamin was not enough to stave off the Vitamin A loss. This is actually the second case of its kind, of a patient losing vision after a weight loss surgery. Kirkland says that eye problems such as these might become more common after bariatric surgeries.