Monday, 15 August 2011

Thiamine and Night Vision.

Is thiamine overlooked in its role in vision? especially night vision. Everyone knows about retinol (vitamin A) and its importance for vision - eat up your carrots kids, and you will be able to see in the dark etc....but what about Thiamine?

Some background of where I coming from. I am very vision conscious. I developed myopia at about age ten and by late teens it was about -5.0R and -4.5L I hated wearing glasses and only wore them only when absolutely necessary; spending a lot of time outside. I was a somewhat slacker student so I didn't study or read much and this was pre-internet. My myopia wasn't from too much reading or screen time, my sister was the same. Neither of my parents had myopic eye trouble. I got contacts in my senior year of high school. In my early twenties I had LASIK and was set free of glasses and contacts lenses.

More than a decade passed and my eyes were better than normal, no problems until in the past year or so I noticed they were declining, not so bad that I needed glasses again, but they weren't great anymore and this was evident on my annual medical (using the Landolt ring eye test) Since cleaning up my act food wise, I noticed my eyes were initially sharper, they improved and were once again better than average. What exactly was the mechanism behind this initial improvement is really unknown. Much less sugar?, no wheat/gluten?, different lipid profile of my blood? ( do lipids affect vision?) HOWEVER, after about six months of Paleo life I noticed my night vision was becoming terrible and I began to question everything, was it the new diet? anyway I googled and came across of all things - an anti low carb website: Aktins exposed.

There was this page, the case of two naval men - an aviator and mechanic who both went low carb and suffered vision issues - especially night vision and it diagnosed as a deficiency of Thiamine - Vitamin B1. So I self experimented and sourced some Vitamin B specific supplements and began taking them and sure enough my night vision improved and my eyes are great once again. I have eased off the supplements and my vision has remained stable. As for having a vitamin B1 deficiency, I found that odd. Yeast extract is very rich in it which I love (vegemite) and pork too. Grains however are rich in thiamine so one hypothesis is that my body was previously used to a ready supply of thiamine via grains for years and when suddenly going cold turkey it wasn't adept at utilizing other sources primarily rather than the grains? Calf muscle cramps which I very occasionally get, are related to thiamine deficiency so perhaps I was having issues, but that is the only usual thiamine deficiency symptom that I displayed.