Teenager 'goes blind from crisps and chips diet'

3 September 2019, 10:18

The boy lived off crisps, chips and white bread
The boy lived off crisps, chips and white bread. Picture: Getty

By Sylvia DeLuca

A malnourished 17-year old boy has suffered irreparable sight loss after living on a diet of chips and crisps.

The boy from Bristol who cannot be named had first gone to his doctor complaining of tiredness when he was 14.

Tests revealed he had severe vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition damage. It was said that his condition had been brought on by him being a "fussy eater".

A report said he was given B12 injections and dietary advice, but when he returned to the doctor a year later his hearing and vision were already impaired.

The report said that "by the age of 17, the patient's vision had become progressively worse, to the point of blindness".

Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at Bristol Eye 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.

The boy had a very limited diet
The boy had a very limited diet. Picture: PA

"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."

Health professionals recommend a varied diet that includes green vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and dairy, or dairy substitutes. Oily fish and some meat might also help towards a properly balanced diet.

Describing his condition, Dr Atan said: "He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision. 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."

Nutritional optic neuropathy - the condition the teenager- is treatable if diagnosed early. However if it is left too long, the nerve fibres in the optic nerve die and the damage becomes permanent.

Dr Atan said cases like this are thankfully uncommon, but that parents should be aware of the potential harm that can be caused by picky eating, and seek expert help.