Steady Diet Of Chips And Fries Causes Teen To Go Blind

When you were growing up, your parents likely insisted that you eat a variety of healthy foods. As a child, it's possible you resisted, resulting in a classic picky-eater scenario that meant your parents tried to accommodate you while still attempting to feed you the foods your body needed. And while there are oodles of reasons a varied diet is healthy, your parents probably didn't think that eating poorly could make a person go blind, which is what happened to a teenager in England who lost his vision due to nutritional optic neuropathy.

Although this is extremely rare, particularly in a developed country, a teenager in Bristol has gone blind as a result of his extremely limited diet. Since around age 7, he consumed nothing more than fries, chips, white bread, and processed pork in the form of ham or sausages, as reported by the University of Bristol.

Although the boy hadn't consumed anything other than highly-processed foods for years, he wasn't overweight and didn't appear physically malnourished. His mother took him to the doctor, and he was diagnosed with low vitamin B12 levels, and was prescribed B12 injections and was given nutritional counseling. 

He returned to the doctor a year later complaining about vision and hearing loss, but they were unable to find a cause. By age 17, the vision loss has progressed to permanent blindness. Apparently, the food he ate didn't have enough nutritional content and led to a condition called nutritional optic neuropathy.

As reported by The Independent, his mother noticed he'd return home from school with an uneaten lunch starting at around age 7, but as he didn't have any obvious signs of illness and looked fit and healthy, like his siblings who ate a normal diet, they never thought there was any cause for concern. They've since discovered that he has an eating disorder called avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), which means those with the condition tend to avoid certain foods due to texture, smell, taste, or appearance. 

A professor not involved with the case criticized the conclusion of the report, noting that it relied on the patient's recall and didn't investigate other potential causes, which could include genetic defects or environmental toxins (via CNN). Also, he said that while B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy, it's very hard to do when animal products are being consumed (as noted above, the teen did eat ham and sausage). 

That aside, and while this case should be considered extreme and not at all common, it's still good to keep in mind that it's not only a good idea, but it's vital to eat a varied diet and not subsist solely on processed foods because, well, you could go blind.