In a country where the main nutritional problem is obesity, the clinician may forget that occasionally a patient can suffer from poor nutrition even though his caloric intake prevents him from appearing malnourished. An example of such a condition is nutritional amblyopia.
During World War II this malady occurred in prisoners of war held by the Japanese. The prisoners, many of whom had widespread neurological disease as well as optic-nerve impairment, simply did not receive an adequate diet. In peacetime, amblyopia is found most often in chronic alcoholics. Occasionally it develops in teetotalers or moderate drinkers who are consuming a very poor diet or who, due to diarrhea or some other factor, are unable to utilize their food.
The September Archives of Ophthalmology reports a study of 58 patients with nutritional amblyopia observed recently in New York city.1 Ten of the patients had peripheral neuritis, at least six had