WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A recently published study reveals that a teenaged boy from the U.K. lost his sight due to developing a rare condition caused by malnutrition.
- According to the researchers and the teen’s doctors, his optic nerves stopped working properly mainly because of a deficiency in vitamin B12.
- For almost 10 years, the boy’s diet consisted mainly of potato chips like Pringles, potato fries, fried meats with the occasional white bread and ham.
A new study reports a 17-year-old British teenager who lost his vision after eating a junk food-based diet for several years.
The case study published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine details a teenaged “fussy eater” who subsisted mainly on potato chips, French fries, fried meats and occasional slices of white bread, for almost a decade.
As reported by the researchers, the teen has developed an extremely rare condition and probably the first case recorded in the UK, called nutritional optic neuropathy. This condition in which a person’s optic nerves stop functioning properly is largely due to malnutrition.
The teen told doctors that he started feeling tired and often fatigued when he was 14 years old. Eventually, he was diagnosed with anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency. Even though doctors prescribed him vitamins and advised him to improve his diet, he refused to do so.
One of the teen’s doctors, Dr. Denize Atan, told the Telegraph that the boy’s daily diet essentially consisted of a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop.
“He also used to snack on crisps [potato chips] — Pringles — and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables.”
By the age of 15, the boy began experiencing vision loss and became legally blind by 17. He also developed partial deafness and weakness in his bones.
The teen’s mother, who wished to be unnamed, told the Telegraph that her son’s life has been ‘devastated’ by his condition, adding that he gave up a college IT course because he could no longer see or hear anything.
After further study into the boy’s case, researchers also discovered that he was suffering from avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Doctors say this is an eating or feeding condition that involves hypersensitivity to the texture and taste of many foods, causing some of the early dietary habits of the teen.
Dr. Atan told the Telegraph: “What’s unusual about this case is the extreme picky eating and the fact it had gone on for quite some time, that the diagnosis had been missed and the visual loss had become permanent.”
Due to consistently eating the same foods, this condition also made it hard for the teen to expand his palate, said his mother. However, despite his health complications, she told the Telegraph that her son’s diet remains the same.
“We managed to start him on fruit smoothies,” she said. “But he’s gone off those now.”