An extreme case of "vain eating" caused blindness in a teenager from the United Kingdom. (Representative)
An extreme case of "vain eating" has caused blindness in a United Kingdom teenager, according to a new report published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
When Denize Atan, the lead author of the study, met a 17-year-old boy at Bristol Eye Hospital, his vision deteriorated for two years. But what shocked her most was "how long the patient's eating behavior lasted," Atan wrote in an email to The Post on Tuesday. "When I first met him, he had been following the same diet for [approximately seven] years.
The non-baptized teenager told doctors that since elementary school" he had a daily serving of fried potatoes from a local fish shop and chips and breakfast at Pringles (Kellogg), white bread, processed ham and sausage, "said the study.
The risks of malnutrition are often associated with obesity, poor cardiovascular health and cancer, but the Atan Study warns that it can also have catastrophic, and sometimes irreversible, effects on the nervous system, including vision.
The boy was first treated three years earlier by his family doctor for "fatigue". According to the report, the then 1
By the age of 15, the boy's hearing began to fail and then the complications of vision arrived. Doctors could not determine what was causing any of the symptoms.
After two years of progressive vision loss, the boy was declared legally blind. Additional tests revealed that his vitamin B12 deficiency had not decreased. He also developed a reduced level of bone mineral density and had high levels of zinc and low levels of copper, selenium and vitamin D.
According to the report, his diagnosis was twofold: nutritional optic neuropathy and food that circumvented avoidance. Eating disorder, an eating disorder that usually starts in middle childhood and is driven not by weight or shape problems, but by aversion to certain nutritional textures and fear of the effects of eating.
Nutritional optic neuropathy, which Atan says is more commonly caused by malabsorption, certain drugs, and alcoholism, is dysfunction in the optic nerve. If caught early, it is reversible, but can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and blindness if left untreated.
"Nutritional deficiencies are actually quite common, but nutritional blindness is not," she told The Post. "Blindness is an Uncommon but Serious Complication of Poor Eating."
In a press release from the University of Bristol on Monday, Atan, who is also a senior lecturer in ophthalmology at the Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Neuro-Ophthalmology Clinical Guide says: "This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health and the fact that caloric intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status."
Nutritional optic neuropathy, worries researchers , may become more widespread due to the mass consumption of junk food and the "growing popularity of veganism" that is not regularly supplemented with B12.
"It's important to eat a varied diet! There is no single food that provides all the vitamins and minerals you need – diversity is the key," Atan said.
She hoped the teenager's case would serve as a cautionary tale leading to the widespread inclusion of nutrition history in routine clinical examinations.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)
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