Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen Goes Blind After Eating Only Pringles, White Bread, French Fries and Processed Meat for Years


Picky eaters are nothing new, and parents know this best of all. You can prepare an elaborate meal, splurging on top-notch ingredients and slaving in the kitchen for hours, only to have a toddler turn up his nose and request (obviously) superior chicken nuggets.

There are even shows based around picky eaters — people who are no longer children but have developed concerning eating habits because they are especially sensitive to certain tastes or textures.

The main concern for people in these situations is that they aren’t getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals they need to thrive, and one recent case illustrates that point rather clearly.

An unnamed 17-year-old was the subject of a case study called “Blindness Caused by a Junk Food Diet” published on Sept. 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Popular media have highlighted the risks for poor cardiovascular health, obesity, and cancer associated with junk food, but poor nutrition can also permanently damage the nervous system, particularly vision,” the study stated.

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The first indication that something was wrong with the young man presented itself three years prior when he visited the doctor.

“A 14-year-old boy presented to his family practitioner with tiredness,” the study continued. “He was a ‘fussy eater’ but was otherwise well and took no medications. Tests detected macrocytic anemia and low vitamin B12 level but no antibodies to intrinsic factor or tissue transglutaminase.”

He was given a vitamin B12 supplement and told to eat a better diet, but he stuck to his “fussy eating.”

Did you know malnutrition could cause damage like this?

Of course, in this case, “fussy eating” meant that since elementary school, the teen had consumed only thoroughly processed foods: pringles potato chips, white bread, processed sausage and ham, and french fries from the fish and chip shop.

You don’t need a medical degree to see how that sort of meal plan could be detrimental, but the boy stuck to it.

Outwardly, he didn’t seem to be suffering. He wasn’t stunted and didn’t appear unhealthy, but inside, his body was starving for variety, and his vision and hearing began to decline.

Three years later, at 17, the boy is now permanently blind.

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When he returned to the doctors, they discovered that along with the vitamin B12 deficiency, he also had low copper, selenium, vitamin D and bone density levels as well as a high amount of zinc.

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that must be ingested in the form of various meats, eggs and dairy products — none of which the boy was really truly getting.

According to Medical News Today, a deficiency of B12 can lead to tiredness, shortness of breath, nerve issues and cognitive clouding. Another problem a deficiency can lead to? Vision impairment.

“Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health,” said study lead author Denize Atan, an ophthalmologist at Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital and the lead author of the study said, according to WXMI.

“This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health, and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status.”

While this teen’s vision loss is permanent, his story serves as a warning for parents and children who might be encountering similar situations. The vision impairment is manageable if supplements are taken or the diet is improved, but without active maintenance, permanent damage is possible.

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