For people who suffer from various eating disorders, the sad truth is that such disorders can often lead to a serious deterioration of eye health.
Eating Disorders Which Can Affect Vision
Eating disorders include, but are not limited to:
- Anorexia Nervosa — an extreme fear of becoming overweight that leads to excessive dieting to the point of serious ill-health and sometimes death.
- Bulimia Nervosa — a condition in which bouts of overeating are followed by undereating, use of laxatives, or self-induced vomiting.
- Binge-eating Disorder — an eating disorder characterized by eating unusually large amounts of food.
Eye Conditions Caused by Eating Disorders
Unfortunately, there are eye manifestations that occur with all three of these disorders.
Lagophthalmus is the inability to close the eyelids, which can occur due to orbital fat atrophy from calorie restriction. Ophthalmologists have also observed acute visual loss from decreased retinal nerve fiber layer thickness and intraretinal hemorrhages (bleeding) from vomiting.
Wernicke Encelophathy is caused by Vitamin B1 deficiency and can be accompanied by Nystagmus (uncontrolled repetitive eye movements) and Ophthalmoplegia (paralysis or weakness of the eye muscles). Progressive loss of vision in both eyes has been reported in those with B9 and B12 deficiencies, which are common to patients with eating disorders.
Pseudotumor Cerebri and IIH
Rapid weight gain from binge eating or during therapy can cause Pseudotumor Cerebri or IIH (Idiopathic intracranial hypertension), a constellation of symptoms which, left untreated, can lead to vision loss.
An Increased Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy
In addition to the disorders mentioned above, a new study from the Anglia Ruskin University in the UK found that people with diabetes and anorexia or bulimia are three times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy and suffer damage to blood vessels in the eye.
Inconsistent food intake and purposely not using insulin as a weight management tactic have been implicated as culprits in the resulting vision loss. Physicians agree that people with eating disorders need to be followed closely by an Ophthalmologist (Eye MD).