A teenage boy who lived primarily on junk food went blind from his poor diet, according to a new study.
The 17-year-old, who lives in the United Kingdom, first went to the doctor at age 14 complaining of tiredness, the Annals of Internal Medicine wrote in the study abstract. By the time his doctors discovered that nutrition was the probable cause, his vision was irrevocably ruined.
Though he was a self-described fussy eater, the teen was healthy in all other respects and wasn’t on any medication, said researchers at the University of Bristol in England. Tests showed he had a form of anemia and low vitamin B12 levels. After B12 injections and dietary advice, the doctor sent him home.
However, it did not end there. A year later the boy, who was then 15, had hearing loss and vision symptoms, but doctors couldn’t find a cause, the researchers said in a statement.
Two years after that, he was 17 and completely blind. That’s when they discovered a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, high zinc levels and “markedly reduced” vitamin D and bone mineral density, the researchers said.
The told that his diet consisted mainly of Pringles, french fries, white bread and occasionally some processed meats like ham and sausage.
“Since starting secondary school, the patient had consumed a limited diet of chips, crisps, white bread, and some processed pork,” the researchers said. “By the time the patient’s condition was diagnosed, the patient had permanently impaired vision.”
Researchers determined that the youth had given himself a case of nutritional optic neuropathy with his near-exclusive consumption of junk food.
They said such cases could rise given the world’s reliance on processed foods, but they also pointed to veganism as a possible cause of vitamin B12 deficiency levels, which could also lead to malnutrition.