A teenager who has eaten nothing but fried potatoes, chips and other junk food for years has been slowly blinded by his poor diet, according to a new case report.
The case highlights perhaps a little known fact about poor diets: In addition to being associated with obesity, heart disease and cancer, they "can also permanently damage the nervous system, especially vision", according to a report published today (September 2) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
The teenager's problems begin at the age of 14 when he goes to the doctor's office complaining of fatigue. The teenager is reported to be a "vain eater" and blood tests show that he has anemia and low levels of vitamin B1
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However, by the age of 15 he develops hearing and vision problems, but doctors cannot seem to find the reason – NMR results and eye exam were normal.
Over the next two years, the vision of a teenager became worse. When the boy was 17, an eye test showed his vision was 20/200 in both eyes, the threshold to be "legally blind" in the United States. Further tests show that the teenager inflicted damage to the optic nerve a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the back of the eye to the brain. In addition, the teenager still has low levels of vitamin B12, along with low levels of honey selenium and vitamin D.
These shortcomings prompted doctors to ask the teenager for the foods he ate. "The patient has admitted that she will not eat certain textures of food from primary school," writes the authors at the Bristol University in the United Kingdom. He told the doctors that the only things he ate were fries, chips – especially Pringles – white bread, processed slices of ham and sausage.
After ruling out other possible causes of his vision loss, the teenager was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy, i.e. or damage to the optic nerve that results from nutritional deficiencies. The condition can be caused by drugs, improper food absorption, improper diet or alcohol abuse. "Pure nutritional causes are rare in developed countries," the authors comment.
It is known that B vitamins are essential for many cellular reactions, and deficiency of these vitamins can lead to the accumulation of toxic by-products. metabolism and ultimately nerve cell damage, according to the University of Iowa .
Vision loss from nutritional optic neuropathy is potentially reversible if caught early. However, at the time the teen was diagnosed, his vision loss is permanent. Moreover, wearing glasses would not help the teenager's vision, since the damage to the optic nerve cannot be corrected with lenses, said study leader Dr Denise Atan, senior ophthalmology teacher at Bristol Medical School and Hospital in Bristol.
The teenager was prescribed dietary supplements that prevented his vision loss from getting worse.
The teenager was also referred to mental health services for eating disorders. The researchers note that the teenager's diet was more than just " picky eating " because it was very restrictive and caused many nutritional deficiencies.
A relatively new diagnosis known as "avoidance restrictive eating disorder" (formerly known as " selective eating disorder" ) involves a lack of interest in foods or avoiding foods with certain textures , colors, etc. without affecting body weight or shape. The condition usually begins in childhood and patients often have a normal body mass index (BMI), as was the case in this patient, the authors said.
Originally published by Live Science .