Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes
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Unlike routine aches and pains in the body, your eyes rarely alert you to problems. That makes vision loss hard to spot until it is too late. According to a case report, one way you could be compromising your eye health is living off a diet of junk food.
A teenager went blind after years of eating junk food, according to the case report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The finding prompted eye doctors in Bristol to warn about the dangers of “fussy eating” after they cared for the young man, whose condition became progressively worse to the point of irreparable blindness.
Researchers from Bristol Eye Hospital, Bristol, United Kingdom reported the case of a 14-year-old patient who first visited his family physician complaining of tiredness.
Aside from being labelled a “fussy eater,” the boy had a normal body mass index (BMI) and took no medications.
The teenager admitted that since leaving primary school, he lived off a diet of French fries, Pringles, white bread, and processed meat.
Although he had a normal BMI and didn’t take any medication, tests found the body had vitamin deficiencies with a low level of vitamin B12 and macrocytic anaemia – a condition bringing larger-than-normal red blood cells.
The medical report went on to say that as a result, he was given B12 injections, put on supplements and given dietary advice – however he did not stick to the recommended treatment.
A year later, the young man returned to the hospital because he had developed some hearing loss and impaired vision, but doctors couldn’t find a cause.
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By the age of 17, “the patient’s vision had become progressively worse, to the point of blindness”, the report said.
The boy admitted that he avoided foods of certain textures and had eaten the same junk foods for over a decade.
Investigating the boy’s nutrition further, physicians found vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies, a reduced bone mineral density, low levels of copper and selenium, and a high zinc level.
“By the time his condition was diagnosed, the patient had permanently impaired vision.”
The report cautioned that nutrition-related optic damage should always be considered by doctors finding any patient with unexplained vision symptoms.
“The risks for poor cardiovascular health, obesity and cancer associated with junk food consumption are well known, but poor nutrition can also permanently damage the nervous system, particularly vision,” the report said.
“It is rare in developed countries. The condition is potentially reversible if caught early. But if left untreated, it leads to permanent blindness.”
Doctor Denize Atan, the study’s lead author, said: “Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health.
“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.”
The finding is particularly concerning in light of a survey published last year.
The survey, conducted by meal box delivery company HelloFresh found that the UK eats the most junk food in Europe.
The company surveyed over 15,000 adults across nine European countries to establish their attitudes towards junk food.
While many of the UK’s European neighbours eat junk food three times per month, they survey claims Brits eat double that, indulging six times a month on average.
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