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Bariatric surgery: Patients should be warned about vision loss

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2016 | Doctor Errors

Doctors in Massachusetts give their clients a lot of advice and suggestions when it comes to managing their weight. One suggestion is to undergo a weight loss surgery, but it is important for doctors to make sure that their patients are aware of all the risks that can happen, especially the loss of vision.

According to CBS News, a woman’s use of a multivitamin after her “duodenal switch” operation did not prevent her from developing a deficiency of vitamin A. The woman, who had undergone the surgery the previous year, was diagnosed with the problem after she developed lesions and was struggling with her sight. While vitamin A deficiency is almost unheard of in the U.S., it has been a noted side effect associated with bariatric surgery. Because the “duodenal switch” procedure involves making the small intestine shorter, the body is able to absorb fewer nutrients and calories from food, leading to vitamin deficiencies.

To permanently counteract the problem though, the woman would need another surgery. However, the woman said that her problems had cleared up after she was administered vitamin A intravenously. Until that surgery can be performed, though, the woman will likely require additional vitamin A infusions to avoid permanent vision damage. Preventable blindness is caused in most cases by a deficiency of vitamin A.

WebMD states that some people may need to take a supplement in order to receive the amount of vitamin A that they need. Most people are able to obtain the vitamin from their normal diet, especially if they eat whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Vitamin A, particularly in the form of Retinoid, is vital to eye health. Patients should have their vitamin levels carefully monitored by a physician after bariatric surgery to ensure proper levels are maintained. In this way, permanent side effects such as total loss of vision may be avoided.