Young Man Goes Blind After Eating Diet of Chips
An extreme case of “fussy” junk-food eating led a young man in the UK to actually go blind, according to a new case report.
The patient involved in the case decided in his adolescence he only liked chips, french fries (a type of crisp) and the occasional slice of white bread.
When he lost his sight, clinical tests showed extremely severe nutritional deficiencies.
Reports have also stated that the patient felt unwell before losing his sight and was prescribed vitamin B12, however, the patient apparently didn’t take the vitamins.
Recovering Man Founder Richard Joy said: “This story is a crazy example of the lack of information we have on our diets.
“We’re prone to thinking that eating what you want doesn’t have any long-term issues, but instances like this show you that our bodies need a range of nutrients as part of a balanced diet.
“It’s just crazy to believe the patient’s parents never stepped-in, outlining the sheer unawareness we have to the power of a good or bad diet.”
Nutritional optic neuropathy, the case of blindness the patient has, is a dysfunction of the optic nerve which is important for vision.
The condition is reversible, if caught early, but if left untreated, it can lead to permanent structural damage to the optic nerve and permanent blindness.
Unfortunately, the patient has now acquired permanent blindness.
In developed countries like the UK, the most common causes of nutritional optic neuropathy are bowel problems or drugs that interfere with the absorption of various important nutrients from the stomach.
Purely dietary causes are less common because food supply is good, but elsewhere in the world, poverty, war and drought are linked to malnutrition and higher rates of nutritional optic neuropathy.
Clinician scientists from Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Eye Hospital examined the case of a teenage patient who first visited his GP complaining of tiredness.
The link between his nutritional status and vision was not picked up until much later, and by then, his visual impairment had become permanent.
The researchers concluded that the patient’s ‘junk food’ diet and limited intake of nutritional vitamins and minerals resulted in the onset of nutritional optic neuropathy.
They suggest the condition could become more prevalent in future, given the widespread consumption of ‘junk food’ at the expense of more nutritious options, and the rising popularity of veganism if the vegan diet is not supplemented appropriately to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.
Dr Denize Atan, the study’s lead author and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at Bristol Medical School and Clinical Lead for Neuro-ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital, said: “Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health.
“This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health, and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status.”
The team recommends dietary history should be part of any routine clinical examination like asking about smoking and alcohol intake.
This may avoid a diagnosis of nutritional optic neuropathy being missed or delayed as some associated visual loss can fully recover if the nutritional deficiencies are treated early enough.