Blurry Vision Coupled With Restrictive Eating

By November 20, 2012

I have struggled with an eating disorder for 6 years now. I long for the days when I didn’t think or worry about food. Today, my eyes went blurry for a couple hours; I started sweating, had a headache and felt like I was going to pass out. I know that it has been a week of waiting for long periods of time to eat and then purging – is this what is causing the blurred vision and dizziness? What exactly is going on within my body? – anonymous

Dear anonymous,

Thank you for your question. Blurry vision coupled with restrictive eating patterns is likely caused by low blood sugar levels. The body must operate under a certain constant level of blood sugars. When blood levels of sugar decrease, it can cause some of the symptoms you describe like sweating, headaches and blurry vision.

As someone becomes underweight or malnourished from restricting, the body’s usual stores of sugar (such as stores in the liver) get depleted and the body actually breaks down proteins in muscles in an attempt to maintain adequate blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels can be extremely dangerous. In addition to the symptoms you’ve already described (sweating, headaches, and blurry vision), it can also actually cause loss of consciousness, seizures, and even coma.

It is extremely important that you are under the care of a medical physician in addition to a psychotherapist and nutritionist. See “Finding Treatment” for more information.

I do hope the best in your recovery from an eating disorder.

Tom Scales, MD