Case study

Junk food intake may lead to blindness in teenage

A recent case study has shown that the intake of junk food can lead to blindness in teenage. Eating white bread, French fries, and Pringles has caused a teenage boy to lose his sight. The journal “Annals of Internal Medicine” has published this case report.

A poor diet can cause nutritional optic neuropathy

In the past, many studies have stressed the link between poor diet and various health issues. And have found that eating junk food can increase the risk of obesity, cancer, and CVDs. Such a diet can also cause permanent damage to the central nervous system, especially vision.

The case study has reported that a picky or fussy diet in this boy has caused blindness in teenage. In a patient with a poor diet (no matter what’s the BMI) and unexplained vision symptoms, a clinician should consider nutritional optic neuropathy. In this condition, the optic nerve is unable to perform its function properly.

Early detection can reverse this condition. But, if left untreated, it can cause structural damage to the optic nerve. This damage is irreversible. As the optic nerve is vital for vision, permanent damage can lead to blindness.

In developed countries, such as the UK, drugs that affect the nutrient absorption in stomach and bowel problems are the most known causes of nutritional optic neuropathy. Purely dietary causes are rare in such areas due to a good food supply.

But in other areas of the world, war, drought, and poverty are more common. So, the rates of poor nutrition and nutritional optic neuropathy are higher in these areas. The clinician-scientists have observed the case of a teenage patient who has visited his GP and complained of tiredness.

The GP was not able to find the link between his diet and vision until much later. And, by that time, damage to his vision got permanent. Besides picky eating, the patient showed a normal height and BMI. And, neither there were any visible signs of malnutrition, nor he was taking any medicines.

Related: Quitting junk food causes withdrawals like drug addiction, research says

Limited intake of vitamins and minerals can damage vision permanently

The results of the initial testing detected low levels of vitamin B12 and macrocytic anemia. That was treated with dietary advice and injection of Vit B12. One year later, again the patient visited the GP. At that time, the GP noticed vision symptoms and hearing loss. But still, he wasn’t able to identify the cause.

By age 17, the boy’s vision had continued to worsen to the point of blindness. Further analysis found that the patient had a deficiency of Vit B12, a high level of zinc, and low levels of selenium and copper. There was also a reduction in the level of vitamin D and BMD.

The patient was eating a limited diet of white bread, crisps, chips, and some processed pork since he joined secondary school. By the time GP detected his condition, he had a permanent loss of vision.

The team concluded that a limited intake of vitamins and minerals, and more intake of junk food has led to blindness in teenage. The team suggests that this issue may become more common in the future due to the widespread intake of a diet limited to junk food.

Also, not supplementing a vegan diet with Vit B12 to prevent its deficiency can lead to nutritional optic neuropathy. The team has recommended taking dietary history in any routine check-up. As it can lead to early detection and treatment of this condition and avoid the permanent loss of vision.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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