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Consumers who eat too much junk food could end up going blind, case study shows

A patient who lacked vital nutrients from his diet eventually lost his eyesight

Photo (c) happy_lark - Getty Images
While many consumers may not see the direct correlation between their diet choices and their vision, a recent case could have them rethinking that relationship. 

Researchers from the University of Bristol recently reported on a teenage patient who sustained permanent eye damage because of his junk food-heavy diet. Initially, the patient only complained about being fatigued, but doctors say the problem was much more serious.

“Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health,” said Dr. Denize Atan. “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.” 

Diet can lead to blindness

The researchers explained that the exact cause of the patient’s fatigue was undetermined when he first visited his doctor. Initial blood tests revealed that he was deficient in vitamin B12 and was suffering from macrocytic anemia, a condition that increases the size of the body’s red blood cells.

The patient’s symptoms only worsened, and after a year of B12 injections and recommendations for a change in diet, the patient returned to the doctor with poor vision and hearing. Ultimately, the patient became blind by the time he was 17, at which point doctors began to put together the pieces of his condition. 

Despite being at a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI), the patient’s diet consisted primarily of junk food. The researchers noted that critical vitamins and nutrients that the body needs to remain healthy and functioning were at critically low levels. The patient was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy, which can lead to blindness, as it did in this case, if untreated. 

The researchers hope that this case sheds light on just how far our diet choices can reach. They hope that the case will prompt doctors to question their patients about their food intake, as doing so can help prevent this life-altering condition.

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