A number of vitamins make up the vitamin B complex of nutrients, and these vitamins play a crucial role in how your body develops and functions. These nutrients play an important part in the regulation of chemical processes, such as converting food into energy. If you have a deficiency in certain B vitamins, this could result in eye problems. Knowing the B nutrient deficiencies that can cause eye problems will help you discuss these changes with your doctor.
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Vitamin B-2, also known as riboflavin, has a number of roles throughout your body, and a deficiency might cause a number of side effects, such as digestive problems, mouth sores and tongue swelling. A deficiency in B-2 might also result in eye problems such as redness and irritation. You might also experience eye fatigue and light sensitivity.
Vitamin B-2 might also help prevent cataracts, an eye condition that gradually affects the clarity of the natural lens inside the eye, resulting in cloudy vision. To correct this, the cloudy lens must be surgically removed, and the surgeon then replaces it with a clear lens made from a variety of materials. Cataract surgery has risks, but most people do not experience complications, and it's often done as outpatient surgery. However, maintaining an adequate level of B-2 could help reduce your need for this procedure.
A deficiency in vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, might cause eye muscle weakness and trembling called a nystagmus. These movements might range from up and down, side to side or circular wobbling, and the person with the deficiency cannot control these motions. In rare instances, a deficiency in vitamin B-12 might also result in eye movement disorders.
Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient found in many animal-based foods, and people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet have a higher risk for a deficiency. If you have low levels of vitamin B-12, you might experience loss of vision or double vision as a result of inadequate intake.
If you suspect you might have a deficiency in a B vitamin, contact your doctor. She can test your blood and evaluate your symptoms. Changes in vision, eye comfort and eye movements might also result from a number of other conditions, and these symptoms require prompt evaluation from an eye doctor. You should not start taking a vitamin supplement without first consulting your doctor.
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex
- Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute: Healthy Diet, Healthy Eyes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)
- “European Journal of Neurology”; "Eye Movement Disorders in Vitamin B-12 Deficiency: Two New Cases and A Review of the Literature"; G. Akdal et al; October 2007
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Learn More About Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
- Linus Pauling Institute: Thiamine