Picky Eating Causes Blindness in Teen
Health professionals have raised the alarm after a 17-year-old went permanently blind from subsisting on a diet of ultra-processed food items. Doctors in the UK examined the unnamed teen after his sight degraded enough for him to be certified blind as he reportedly ate only French fries, white bread and Pringles with an occasional sausage or ham for several years.
Deficient Diet Caused Blindness
Initial tests revealed he suffered severe micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition even though his physical appearance was normal. The boy made his first hospital visits to doctors when he was fourteen after complaining of fatigue and a lack of energy and was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency.He continued the poor habits and the deficient diet caused blindness. He was placed on supplements but apparently didn’t make use of them and as, Dr. Atan, the GP who treated him explained, the teen complained of an inability or dislike for certain foods.
“His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. He also used to snack on crisps – Pringles – and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables. He explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat,” explained Dr. Atan.
Even though he was not overweight or underweight, subsequent tests revealed shocking findings as his restrictive eating patterns meant he suffered deficiencies for vitamin B12, A, Dand minerals like copper and selenium. The teen was diagnosed as suffering from Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and placed on treatment of vitamin supplement and referred to a food disorder psychologist and dietician but whether anything can be done to restore sight remains to be seen.
Nutritional Optical Neuropathy
Nutritional optical neuropathy was the medical diagnosis and it is essentially the death of fibers that make up the optic nerve due to lack of nutrients. It is easily treated if detected early but permanent damage to the optic nerve guarantees blindness.
He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” said Dr. Atan. “That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces. He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision.”
Even the though nutritional optical neuropathy is rare, experts adviced taking it as a highlight into the silent diet crisis affecting teens across the world and encouraged parents to take a more hands on approach when it came to ensuring teens are having healthy meals.
Dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetics Association, Rebecca McManamon, said reasons for self-imposed restrictive eating can be caused by eating disorders, undiagnosed allergies and conditions such as autism. Dr. Atan also weighed in on the debate discouraging use of multivitamins and supplements but encouraging deriving them from natural sources for better health.