UK teen goes blind after years of eating junk food: Study

UK teen goes blind after years of eating junk food: Study

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BRISTOL: A teenager in the United Kingdom became blind after years of living on junk food, revealed a study published on Monday (Sep 2). 

The boy, who was described as a “fussy eater”, lived on food like french fries, potato chips, white bread, ham and sausages, said the report, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

He was eventually diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy, a dysfunction of the optic nerve, but by then it was too late to reverse the condition.

The patient first visited his doctor at the age of 14 due to fatigue, reported the BBC. He was of normal weight and height and had no visible signs of malnutrition, said a press release from the University of Bristol.

He was then diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and put on supplements but did not follow through with the treatment or improve his diet.

Over the years, the patient suffered hearing loss and "vision symptoms" developed. 

Eventually at the age of 17, the patient's vision worsened and he had to be taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital. 

"His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day," one of the teen's doctors, Dr Denize Atan told BBC. 

"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.

The patient explained his diet was "an aversion to certain texture of food that he really could not tolerate", said the doctor. 

"Chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat."

According to tests, the teen had low levels of B12 as well as some other important vitamins and minerals, including copper, selenium and vitamin D. 

The patient had an avoidant-restricted food intake disorder, which resulted in lost minerals from his bone. He has since been referred to a dietitian and a specialist mental health team, and put on vitamin supplements, reported the BBC. 

While the teen's sight loss meets the criteria for being registered blind, he can still walk around on his own due to peripheral vision. 

"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."

Dr Atan said while cases like these are not common, parents should be aware of the potential harm of picky eating. 

"It's best not to be anxious about picky eating, and instead calmly introduce one or two new foods with every meal," she said.

Source: CNA/ad(hm)

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