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Doctor’s blog: Anemia

Topic: Anemia, Your Eyes and Vision

Today I was asked by one of my patients whether anemia can affect the eyes.

WHAT IS ANEMIA? Anemia is a low red blood cell count and an inability to carry enough oxygen in the blood to vital tissues.  This often causes fatigue or over-tiredness, becoming out of breath easily, headaches and pale skin.  It may even cause heart attack.

ANEMIA AFFECTS THE EYES: Anemia can affect the eyes, especially the retina, or the inside of the eye which captures images and sends them to the brain.  Sometimes anemia, or low blood count, can even cause bleeding in your eyes and loss of vision.  Your eye doctor can see bleeding and also areas which do not have enough oxygen inside the eye on a dilated exam.  Occasionally, this can affect vision.

TREATMENT:  Treatment for anemia includes various vitamin supplements such as folic acid, iron, and vit B12.  You also need to know why your blood count is low.  Common causes are bleeding ulcers, heavy periods, lack of iron in diet, kidney disease, or poor diet.   If very severe, some people do require blood transfusions.  If you have anemia and experience vision changes, I would recommend a dilated exam by your ophthalmologist.  Make sure you mention this issue at the beginning of your next exam!  It will help the doctor look specifically for changes which could ultimatley save your vision.

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