Matthew McConaughey almost went blind while starving himself for his new role as an HIV-positive man in the upcoming move “The Dallas Buyer’s Club,” according to an unnamed source who talked to InTouch Weekly.
According to EntertainmentWise, the actor’s representative says that there is ‘no truth’ to the claims.
The actor did lose about 50 pounds for his role by surviving on two diet Cokes, egg whites, and a piece of chicken every day, he told The Daily Mirror back in April. It’s possible that McConaughey was being deprived of several essential vitamins and minerals during his three-month diet and could explain his alleged loss of vision.
While it may not have been the case for the star, severe malnutrition can cause vision changes.
Starvation and malnutrition can cause severe night blindness, since our bodies rely on nutrients to function correctly. Night blindness is just what it sounds like — your night vision is severely limited.
Our eyes use proteins that contain a special chemical called retinol that turns photons — packets of light — into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain, where we understand them as pictures.
Retinol specifically works in low-light situations. In the 1920s researchers discovered that to make retinol we need Vitamin A [PDF] which we get from the beta-carotene in our food. When someone is malnourished, they likely aren’t getting enough Vitamin A to make retinol, so they start losing their sight.
This could be what happened to McConaughey, though we can’t know for sure. He’s since regained weight and his vision problems have disappeared.
Beta-carotene is found in vegetables like carrots, and is what give them their orange colour. It’s also in most multivitamins. Vitamin A deficiency is a big problem in Africa and Southeast Asia, according to the Helen Keller International.
When kids grow up without enough Vitamin A they can be blind for life. Every year 670,000 children will die from Vitamin A deficiency, and 350,000 will go blind, the Non-Governmental organisation says.
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