Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms: Three warning signs in the eyes to watch out for

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a condition that occurs when the body lacks vitamin B12. The vitamin is important for the production of red blood cells in the body, and if a person lacks vitamin B12, their body will struggle to make enough red blood cells. The red blood cells that are made can also be abnormally large and have a short lifespan. If the body lacks red blood cells, tissues and organs will be deprived of oxygen, triggering the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Experts have noted three symptoms that can appear in the eyes in the case of a vitamin B12 deficiency – jaundice, blurry vision and an eye twitch

Experts have noted three symptoms that can appear in the eyes in the case of a vitamin B12 deficiency – jaundice, blurry vision and an eye twitch.


If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency you could develop jaundice, according to Bupa.

This makes a person look pale or have a yellowy tinge to the skin.

The eyes can also be affected, with the whites turning yellow.

The fragility of red blood cells when production is affected by vitamin B12 deficiency means many of them break dawn and cause an excess of bilirubin.

Bilirubin is produced by the liver when it breaks down old blood cells and is slightly red or brown in colour.

Large amounts of bilirubin are what give skin and eyes a yellow tinge – jaundice.

Blurry vision

Blurry vision can occur when untreated B12 deficiency causes nervous system damage to the optic nerve that leads to your eyes.

This was the finding of a study titled ‘B12 deficiency with neurological manifestations in the absence of anaemia’.

The damage can play havoc on the nervous signal that travels from the eye to the brain, therefore impairing vision.

Optic neuropathy is the medical term for this condition.

Eye twitch

A twitchy eye can be very annoying, and isn’t usually a sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

But it could be caused by not eating enough vitamin B12-rich foods, says Push Doctor.

The eye twitch usually occurs in just one eye at a time, and isn’t usually painful.

“It’s happened to all of us at some point. Your eyelid is twitching uncontrollably and you don’t know why,” it explains.

“While this can be annoying, it’s not usually a sign of anything serious. You might feel very self conscious when it happens, but the truth is the movements are so quick that people around you are unlikely to notice it’s even happening.

“Most cases of eye twitching are thought to be caused by lifestyle factors, many of which we can work on if needed.

“If your diet is lacking nutrients such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, your body doesn’t quite function as it should.

“Eye twitches are one of the many symptoms you might notice, and it won’t surprise you that the best fix here is to get more of these nutrients into your diet.”

Vitamin B12 deficiency is best gained through diet. But some foods are better sources of the vitamin than others. 

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