Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin important for the function of various body systems. In the eye, vitamin A is essential for the synthesis of visual pigments in photoreceptors. Vitamin A deficiency is a rare condition in the developed countries and might follow bariatric or intestinal bypass surgery.
We present the case of a 67-year-old male that complained of visual loss and nyctalopia. Patient had bariatric surgery 15 years before for weight loss. Low serum levels of vitamin A confirmed the diagnosis and patient started vitamin A supplementation. Visual fields, macular thickness, and ganglion cell layer thickness were recorded and monitored 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year after the beginning of therapy. Visual fields were significantly altered and central macular thickness and ganglion cell layer thickness were reduced, but the first 2 showed a significant recovery with vitamin supplementation therapy. By the 1st month of treatment patient referred a complete remission of visual symptoms. Further, we observed hyperreflective material accumulating beneath a partially disrupted ellipsoid band in the high definition optical coherence tomography that also improved progressively with vitamin repletion.
Newer and more sophisticated imaging systems have increased our knowledge of the mechanisms responsible for retinal diseases. To our knowledge, this is the first description of the effect of vitamin A deficiency and vitamin supplementation on macular thickness. This case also highlights the importance of considering bariatric bypass surgery as a cause of vitamin A deficiency in developed countries.