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Teenager goes ‘blind’ after existing on chips and crisps

Health experts have warned against the extremes of picky eating after a teenager from Bristol, England reportedly lost sight after living off a diet of crisps, white bread and potatoe chips.

The unidentified teenager told doctors he had only eaten chips and crisps, white bread, slices of processed ham and sausage since primary school.

As with most picky eaters, the boy avoided foods with certain textures.

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The boy first visited a doctor at age 14, complaining of tiredness, according to a case report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday.

Tests and examination showed he wasn’t taking any medication, had a normal BMI and height, and showed no visible signs of malnutrition.

However, doctors discovered low vitamin B12 levels and anemia, which were treated with vitamin B12 injections. He was also offered dietary advice which he failed to adhere to.

One year later, there were signs of hearing loss and vision symptoms, but doctors did not find the cause.

By age 17, the teenager’s vision had deteriorated to the pint of blindness and doctors identified vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level, reduced vitamin D level and bone level density.

Researchers from Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Eye Hospital examined the case and concluded that the patient suffered nutritional optic neuropathy, a dysfunction of the optic nerve.

“Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health,” said study lead author Denize Atan, an ophthalmologist at Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital.

“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,” says Atan in a report published by CNN.

The researchers say that poor diet and reduced intake of minerals caused vision loss in this case.

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The experts have also warned optic neuropathy could become more common due to the consumption of junk food.

They also warned vegans to make sure to supplement for vitamin B12 to avoid deficiency.

Already, critics have questioned the accuracy of the study saying it overlooked several critical factors.

Tom Sanders a professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, questioned the case report, saying it relied on the patient’s own recall of his eating habits and failed to take into account other possible explanations for the condition, including genetic defects or environmental exposures.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy but it is very unusual to find dietary deficiency when animal products are consumed e.g. ham and sausages which are significant sources of the vitamin B12,” he told the Science Media Centre in London.

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