British Teen Goes Blind After Restrictive Diet of French Fries, Chips, and White Bread

September 3, 2019

A 17-year-old British boy who subsisted on a diet consisting mostly of french fries, chips, processed meat, and white bread has gone blind due to vitamin deficiency.

The fussy eater, who is from Bristol and is now 19, had hardly eaten any fruit or vegetables in about a decade, according to a doctor who treated the teen in hospital.

“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,” said Dr. Denize Atan, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

“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.”

The Daily Mail reported that the boy, who ended up dropping out of college, lacked a number of vitamins including vitamin B12, copper, and vitamin D, which are crucial for maintaining good health.

Tests showed that in addition to severe vitamin deficiencies, he also suffered malnutrition damage.

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

He lost his sight over the course of three years due to a condition known as Nutritional Optic Neuropathy (NON). Eventually, his loss of vision was so severe he met the criteria for being registered blind.

“He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” said Dr. Atan, the BBC reported. “That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV, or discern faces.

“He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision.”

Identified only by his first name—Jake—he told The Sun: “I’ve become very isolated. When I was little I’d go out and play football with my friends. I’m too frightened to do that now.”

‘Downhill Very Fast’

Jake’s mother, identified by The Sun as Angie, said she first sent him to doctors at the age of 14 when he complained of fatigue. He was initially diagnosed with anemia and told to improve his diet—including eating plenty of vegetables.

Over time, the teen’s condition deteriorated.

“They initially said it was all in his head,” his mother said. “By the time they realized what was wrong it was too late to save his sight.”

“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 told The Telegraph.

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