We all know picky eaters. And, quite frankly, we can all eat healthier diets. Unfortunately, for one 19-year-old, a lifetime of consuming only Pringles, french fries, white bread, ham, and sausage has led to blindness.
I know, it sounds wild—like those “don’t masturbate or you’ll go blind” warnings of yore. But according to a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Blindness Caused by a Junk Food Diet” the British teenager first went to a family practitioner complaining of fatigue. He was a “fussy eater” and had low vitamin B12 levels as well as anemia—but otherwise in good health. Over the next few years, he started having hearing and vision problems.
Now, he is legally blind.
Doctors were treating him with vitamin injections, but the teenager stopped taking them. He also didn’t adjust his diet to include vegetables. The teenager admitted he had been living on solely processed meat and carbs.
“The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched. I would make him nice sandwiches — and put an apple or other fruit in — and he wouldn’t eat any of it. His teachers became concerned, too,” the teen’s mother told The Guardian.
“His brother and sister have never stopped eating. They love everything. He has always been skinny, so we had no weight concerns. You hear about junk food and obesity all the time – but he was as thin as a rake,” she added.
The teenager went lost his sight from “nutritional optic neuropathy.” If diagnosed early, it is treatable. However, the fibers in his optic nerves were already too badly damaged from years of poor nutrition and he is likely to be permanently blind.
You might be wondering how food pickiness can be so extreme. Well, there’s an eating disorder called ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder)—and this individual suffers from it. Those with ARFID are incredibly sensitive to texture, smell, taste, and appearance of certain foods, which explains why his diet was so restricted.
“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,” said Dr. Denize Atan, who treated the teenager.
The teenager has not been able to find work since going blind.
“I now look after him full-time,” said his mother. “He is taking vitamin supplements, but his diet is still pretty much the same.”