UK teen becomes blind after eating only French fries, chips & white bread a few years

Vitamin deficiencies.

Belmont Lay | September 03, 2019, 11:59 PM

A UK teenager has developed permanent sight loss after eating only French fries, Pringles and white bread, as well as an occasional slice of ham or a sausage since leaving primary school.

The 17-year-old's vision had deteriorated to the point of blindness, according to the BBC.

He was cared for by eye doctors in Bristol.

Tests showed he had severe vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition damage.

Sick by 14

The adolescent, who cannot be named, had seen his general practitioner at the age of 14, because he had been feeling tired and unwell.

At that time he was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and put on supplements.

He did not stick with the treatment or improve his poor diet.

By 17, he was blind

Three years later, he was taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital.

By this stage he had progressive sight loss, Annals of Internal Medicine journal reported.

Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at the hospital, said: "His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. 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."

"He explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat."

Dr Atan and her colleagues found he was low in B12, as well as some other important vitamins and minerals -- copper, selenium and vitamin D -- when they rechecked his vitals.

Normal weight

The teen was not over or underweight.

He had an eating disorder, known as avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, that left him severely malnourished.

"He had lost minerals from his bone, which was really quite shocking for a boy of his age," Dr Atan said.

He was put on vitamin supplements.

He was also referred to a dietitian and a specialist mental health team.

Registered blind

He met the criteria for being registered blind in terms of sight loss.

Dr Atan said: "He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision."

"He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision."

"That means he can't drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces."

The condition the teen has is known as nutritional optic neuropathy.

It is treatable if diagnosed early, but the nerve fibres in the optic nerve die and the damage becomes permanent in the long term.

Dr Atan said cases like this are uncommon.

But parents should be aware of the potential harm that can be caused by picky eating, and seek expert help.