Whether because of an underlying condition, lack of intake through diet, or another reason, a vitamin deficiency can be a serious condition. Lacking any of the main vitamins can cause problems with your eyes and vision.
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are compounds that help to support various bodily functions and maintain your health.
There are two classes of vitamins: water soluble and fat soluble.
The water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and any excess will be excreted through the urine. The water-soluble vitamins are vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin C.
The fat-soluble vitamins are able to be stored in the body if there is any excess of the vitamin. The fat-soluble vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
What Causes a Vitamin Deficiency?
The most common cause of any vitamin deficiency is decreased intake of the vitamin through the diet. These vitamins are not sufficiently produced naturally and must be gotten through consuming food with the needed vitamins.
Any diet that is lacking in a major food group (vegetables, red meat, grains, etc) may put the individual at risk of developing a vitamin deficiency.
Depending on the vitamin, a specific food type may provide a substantial amount of the dietary requirement.
Other causes of vitamin deficiencies include gastrointestinal conditions which impair the absorption of vitamins from the stomach and the intestines.
Vitamin B Deficiencies
Any of the B vitamins can cause problems if not obtained in high enough concentrations.
The majority of the deficiencies of these vitamins stems from a diet that is lacking in meat or whole grains which contain the B vitamins.
Since these are all water-soluble vitamins, it is possible to deplete the body of the B vitamins in a relatively short time period.
This leads to symptoms much quicker than other vitamin deficiencies.
Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiencies
Each of the B vitamins will cause slightly different symptoms, but often these deficiencies will occur together.
Vitamin B1 deficiency is often associated with alcoholism and may cause toxic optic neuropathy leading to blurred vision and a restricted visual field.
Vitamin B2, B3, and B6 deficiencies are associated with dry eyes and eye infections in the front of the eye.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with pernicious anemia and may cause retinal bleeding, destruction of nerve tissue, and lead to permanent vision loss.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables and is especially high in concentration in citrus fruits.
A deficiency in vitamin C may lead to issues with the inability for blood to clot.
In the eyes, this can lead to a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage or blood in the eye. Vitamin C deficiency is not likely to cause vision loss unless untreated for a very long time.
Vitamin A Deficiency
One of the most severe nutritional problems worldwide, vitamin A deficiency can lead to severe problems with the eyes.
Vitamin A is acquired through the diet and found in meat and dairy products along with some vegetables.
Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
In vitamin A deficiency, the eye becomes extremely dry as the vitamin A is required for normal tear production.
The dryness leads to changes to the cornea and conjunctiva on the front of the eye which become more keratinized and skin-like.
Additionally, vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness since the cells that are responsible for night vision rely upon vitamin A to function.
Treating a Vitamin Deficiency
To treat any vitamin deficiency, external supplements are used to replace the missing vitamins.
If the cause of the vitamin deficiency is a poor diet, changing the diet type may also help prevent future problems.
If the cause of the deficiency is not related to the diet or it cannot be changed, extended vitamin supplementation will be used to prevent additional occurrences.