Vitamin B12 deficiency: visual disturbances and blindness possible

Vitamin B12 deficiency: visual disturbances and blindness possible

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Visual disturbances due to a vitamin B12 deficiency

A lack of vitamin B12 can cause serious complications. If you notice a change in your eyesight, it may be the result of a long-term B12 deficiency. This deficiency can even lead to blindness in the further course, as a recent study shows.

An investigation showed that a lack of Vitamin B12 can lead to visual disturbances. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Optometric Education".

Tasks of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 fulfills a number of important functions in the body. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in DNA formation by keeping nerve and blood cells healthy and maintaining normal brain function. The vitamin is naturally found in a number of foods, so a lack of certain foods can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Visual disturbances due to vitamin B12 deficiency

Due to the essential role of the nutrient in the body, a prolonged deficiency can lead to a number of potentially serious complications. According to the NHS, a long-term deficiency can cause neurological changes (such as vision problems).

Optical neuropathy due to vitamin B12 deficiency?

The investigation looked for a connection between visual problems and a B12 deficiency. A connection with the so-called optical neuropathy was found. This optic nerve damage can lead to blindness if the disease is left untreated.

What is optical neuropathy?

Optical neuropathy is a rare complication of a B12 deficiency, which leads to a progressive, bilateral loss of vision, which is painless and often associated with reduced color acuity.

Further consequences of the vitamin B12 deficiency

In addition to the visual problems, there are other long-term complications such as memory loss, paraesthesia, loss of physical coordination (ataxia) and damage to parts of the nervous system (peripheral neuropathy), especially in the legs.

How can vitamin B12 deficiency be identified?

According to the NHS, neurological problems can develop that are irreversible. A B12 deficiency should be treated early. Different types of blood tests can be done to identify people with a possible vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on what the exact cause of the condition is.

Injections of vitamin B12 can help

If the deficiency is caused by pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disorder that prevents the body from absorbing B12, B12 injections are usually recommended. There are two types of vitamin B12 injections: hydroxocobalamin and cyanocobalamin.

Vitamin B12 tablets with incorrect nutrition?

If there is simply a normal deficiency of this vitamin, which is caused by the diet, vitamin B12 tablets can be prescribed, which must be taken daily between meals.

How long must vitamin B12 tablets be taken?

If people have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 from their diet, such as people who are vegan, they may need vitamin B12 tablets for life. It is possible, even if it is rare that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency caused by poor nutrition are advised to stop taking these tablets as soon as their vitamin B12 level has returned to normal and their diet has improved.

Which foods contain a lot of vitamin B12?

If you want to get more vitamin B 12 in your diet, there are various foods that are good sources of vitamin B12. These foods include, for example, meat, salmon, cod, milk, milk products, and eggs.

Alternatives for vegetarians and vegans

However, if you're a vegetarian or vegan, or looking for alternatives to meat and dairy products, there are other foods that contain vitamin B12. The B12 alternatives include, for example, yeast extract and some fortified breakfast cereals and soy products. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Amber R. Scharnweber, Richard J. Zimbalist: Vitamin B12 Deficiency Optic Neuropathy: a Teaching Case Report, in Optometric Education (Published Volume 42, Number 3, Summer 2017), Optometric Education

Video: 5 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency (August 2022).