It seems like every day there’s worrying news about how something we enjoy is bad for us, and now apparently even eating incredibly unhealthily for many years is bad for you!
Only, in this case, it’s not just “bad for you”. In the case of one teenager, his poor diet literally sent him blind, which is a weird mash-up of different warnings our parents gave us as kids.
In reporting the case, the journal Annals of Internal Medicine noted that poor nutrition can, aside from its many other negative effects, have a permanent deleterious effect on the nervous system, “particularly vision”. In this poor youngster’s case, that’s exactly what happened.
The teen, who was apparently a “fussy eater”, admitted to doctors that from a young age he’d subsisted only on fries, crisps, white bread, processed ham slices, and sausage. In case there’s any ambiguity here, this variety of diet is known by experts as “bad”.
The upshot of his “fussy eating” was that by the age of seventeen his vision was 20/200, which qualifies as legally blind in the US. Absent any other explanation, he was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy: damage to the optic nerve caused by poor nutrition. Diagnosed early, it can be reversed, but in this case, it was far too late. The boy was prescribed nutritional supplements to prevent further deterioration, and referred to mental health practitioners for an eating disorder, because, well, “fries, crisps, white bread, ham and sausage”.
It’s a sobering cautionary tale. This particular teenager’s nutritional issues were extreme, but all of us would do well to remember that a bad diet can have even worse effects than we might have thought.