Vitamin supplements are meant to provide the body with the vitamins it requires for maximum health. One problem with the pills is that they are not regulated, which means that many boosters have high concentrations of ingredients that could be harmful. Another common problem is inappropriate dosing. With some supplements, failure to follow the directions could result in “severe vision” loss.
Niacin supplements are used for their cholesterol-lowering properties, with studies claiming that they can reduce triglycerides by up to 50%.
When used in large doses, however, the supplement can cause blurred vision, macular degeneration (which can lead to blindness), and inflammation in the eyes.
A major report that looked at years of research found that self-prescribed high doses of over-the-counter niacin could lead to severe vision loss.
In 2019, specialists at the New York Ear Infirmary at Mount Sinai concluded in a clinical report that vision loss is associated with various cell types in patients’ eyes.
Fortunately, the experts noted that stopping the supplement caused the illness to go away.
“Niacin supplements are available over-the-counter,” said Monika Wassermann, MD.
“Does this mean they are safe? The most straightforward answer is it depends on the dosage consumed.
“Overdosing on niacin supplements triggers retinal swelling, a condition we scientifically call cystoid maculopathy.
“This retinal disease exhibits a range of symptoms, from less serious blurry vision to normal vision loss.”
Cystoid maculopathy can cause objects to look fuzzy or hazy, according to the National Eye Institute.
According to the health organization, faded colors or visuals that appear less brilliant could potentially be signs of the condition.
“If ignored, these symptoms heighten the risk for severe vision loss or blindness,” Miss Wassermann noted.
“Quitting using niacin or vitamin B3 supplements reverses retinal swelling.
“The retinal function becomes fully restored, positively affecting the production of electric signals.”
It’s worth noting that studies published earlier this year in the Review of Optometry support the use of low-dose niacin to prevent glaucoma, which is a leading cause of blindness in the US.
“Low doses of the supplement lower the risk of glaucoma, a condition characterised by the formation of high pressure in the eyes, leading to optic nerve damage,” Miss Wassermann explained.
Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by damage to the optic nerve, which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss.
“In conditions like glaucoma, a silent killer of vision, a lot of people that suffer from it don’t experience any symptoms early on,” Sharon Copeland, Optician at Feel Good Contacts, noted.
“It’s very difficult to know if you have a problem with one eye when the vision is good in the other.”
Glaucoma can cause significant pain in the eyes or forehead, as well as eye redness and halos surrounding lights, in its advanced stages.
While there is evidence that niacin can help prevent vision loss, it should never be used without the guidance of a qualified health professional.
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