Blinded by junk food: the teenager loses his sight for a bad one-year diet

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    An extreme case of "eating picky eaters" caused blindness in a teenager in the United Kingdom, according to a report published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

    When Denize Atan, the lead author of the study, met the 17-year-old boy at Bristol Eye Hospital, his vision had deteriorated for two years. But what surprised her most was "how long the patient's eating behavior persisted," Atan wrote in an email Tuesday to The Washington Post. "When I met him, he had followed the same diet for [approximately seven] years."

    The teenager, who has not been named, told doctors that from primary school "he ate a portion of chips from the local fish and chips store daily and ate Pringles (Kellogg), white bread, slices of processed ham and sausages". The study said.

    The risks of poor nutrition are often associated with obesity, poor cardiovascular health, and cancer, but Atan's study warns that it can also have disastrous and sometimes irreversible effects on the nervous system, including vision.

    The boy was first treated three years before by his family doctor for "tiredness." According to the report, the 14-year-old boy was fussy but "was fine and didn't take medication." The first tests showed that he had low levels. of vitamin B12 and macrocytic anemia, which were treated with injections of B12 and "dietary advice."

    At age 15, the child's hearing began to fail, and then the vision complications came. The doctors could not determine what was causing any of the symptoms.

    After two years of progressive loss of vision, the child was declared legally blind. Additional tests found that his vitamin B12 deficiency had not diminished. He had also developed a reduced level of bone mineral density and had high levels of zinc and low levels of copper, selenium and vitamin D.

    His diagnosis, according to the report, was twofold: nutritional optic neuropathy and avoidance restrictive food intake disorder, an eating disorder that usually begins in middle childhood and is not due to concerns about weight or shape, but an aversion. to certain food textures and fearing the consequences of eating.

    Nutritional optic neuropathy, which Atan said is most often caused by malabsorption, certain medications, and alcoholism, is a dysfunction in the optic nerve. If detected early, it is reversible, but it can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and blindness if left untreated.

    "Nutritional deficiencies are actually quite common, but nutritional blindness is not," he told The Post. "Blindness is a rare but serious complication of poor nutrition."

    In a press release from the University of Bristol on Monday, Atan, who is also a consultant professor in ophthalmology at the Bristol School of Medicine and clinical leader in neuro ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital, said: "This case highlights the impact of the diet in vision and physical health and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status. "

    Researchers fear that nutritional optic neuropathy becomes more frequent due to the massive consumption of junk food and the "growing popularity of veganism" that is not regularly supplemented with B12.

    “It is important to eat a varied diet! There is not a single food that provides all the vitamins and minerals you need, variety is the key, ”said Atan.

    She hopes that the adolescent's case will serve as a warning story, leading to a widespread inclusion of the history of diet in routine clinical exams.


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