In the first case of its kind in the UK, a teenager is likely to go blind and deaf because of his unhealthy diet comprising solely of junk food.
For about a decade, the unidentified 17-year-old was sustaining himself on chips, white bread and processed meat, a report said.
He suffered from a rare eating disorder called avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) since primary school, which, he told doctors, made him averse to the texture of fruits and vegetables.
His poor diet, therefore, resulted in several vitamin deficiencies, eventually leading to nutritional optic neuropathy (NON). While the condition is prevalent among malnourished children in developing countries, developing NON in the West is little heard of.
The optic nerve is damaged, leading to sight loss, and if untreated, even blindness. The patient had also developed hearing loss and bone weakness.
The author of the report citing the teen’s example which was published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr Denize Atan said that there was a lack of awareness among healthcare professionals and the public about the repercussions of poor diet on the eyesight.
“What’s unusual about this case is the extreme picky eating and the fact it had gone on for quite some time, that the diagnosis had been missed and the visual loss had become permanent,” Dr Atan was quoted by The Daily Telegraph.
“The link between poor nutrition and vision has been known about for quite some time, at least among specialists in neuro-ophthalmology. The problem is that awareness among other health professionals isn’t quite so high.”
Red flags have been raised by scientists in the past warning that British diets are becoming comprised of poor quality, processed foods.