A teen in the UK who has eaten nothing but french fries, potato chips and white bread since elementary school is now blind because of vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition damage.
The boy was taken to his doctor at 14 because he felt tired. He was diagnosed with macrocytic anemia and a vitamin B12 deficiency and prescribed supplements, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. He neither stuck with the vitamins nor changed his diet, however, and his condition worsened.
Three years later, he was taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital with reported vision loss.
According to the BBC, Dr. Denize Atan, who treated him at the hospital, said: "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.
"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."
For those not familiar with the British vernacular, chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips.
The teen was neither over- nor underweight, but he was malnourished, the report states, and suffered from avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder.
His sight had diminished to the point that he met the criteria for being registered blind.
"He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision," Atan told the BBC. "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."
The teen’s nutritional optic neuropathy could have been treated if caught early, the study states. But when left too long, the nerve fibers in the optic nerve die, and the damage becomes permanent.
Atan told the BBC this case is an example of the harm cause by kids being picky eaters.
"It's best not to be anxious about picky eating, and instead calmly introduce one or two new foods with every meal,” she said.
And although supplements can help, she said, they are not a substitute for a healthy and varied diet.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.