No to chips with everything…

 

 You may have seen this news story; it explains how vitally important good nutrition is for eyehealth. Book your appointment to discuss any aspect of your vision on 01382 224620.

Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips

  • 3 September 2019
person eating chipsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Experts are warning about the risks of extreme fussy eating after a teenager developed permanent sight loss after living on a diet of chips and crisps.

Eye doctors in Bristol cared for the 17-year-old after his vision had deteriorated to the point of blindness.

Since leaving primary school, the teen had been eating only French fries, Pringles and white bread, as well as an occasional slice of ham or a sausage.

Tests revealed he had severe vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition damage.

Extreme picky eater

The adolescent, who cannot be named, had seen his GP at the age of 14 because he had been feeling tired and unwell. At that time he was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and put on supplements, but he did not stick with the treatment or improve his poor diet.

Three years later, he was taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital because of progressive sight loss, Annals of Internal Medicine journal reports.

Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at the 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.

“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.”

Dr Atan and her colleagues rechecked the young man’s vitamin levels and found he was low in B12 as well as some other important vitamins and minerals – copper, selenium and vitamin D.

Shocking findings

He was not over or underweight, but was severely malnourished from his eating disorder – avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder.

“He had lost minerals from his bone, which was really quite shocking for a boy of his age.”

He was put on vitamin supplements and referred to a dietitian and a specialist mental health team.

In terms of his sight loss, he met the criteria for being registered blind.

“He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” said Dr Atan. “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.”

vitamin tabletsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Nutritional optic neuropathy – the condition the young man has – is treatable if diagnosed early. Left too long, however, 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.

For those who are concerned, she advised: “It’s best not to be anxious about picky eating, and instead calmly introduce one or two new foods with every meal.”

She said multivitamin tablets can supplement a diet, but are not a substitute for eating healthily.

“It’s much better to take on vitamins through a varied and balanced diet,” she said, adding that too much of certain vitamins, including vitamin A, can be toxic, “so you don’t want to overdo it”.

Dr Atan said vegans are also at increased risk of B12 deficiency-related sight problems if they do not replace what they can lack when excluding meat from their diet.

“Nutritional yeast is a way of adding B12 to your diet,” she said.

Sources of vitamin B12 for vegans include:

  • breakfast cereals fortified with B12
  • unsweetened soya drinks fortified with vitamin B12
  • yeast extract, such as Marmite, which is fortified with vitamin B12

Media captionFake-meat and fries: The rise of vegan fast food

Rebecca McManamon, consultant dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said restricted diets might happen for a range of reasons, including eating disorders, allergies and autism, and need specialist assessment.

“It’s also worth noting that since 2016 the UK government has recommended daily Vitamin D supplementation (10 microgrammes/400 International Units) for everyone between October and March as we are not likely to get enough from fortified foods.

“Multivitamin supplementation is recommended for all children up to their fifth birthday.”

Children’s eyehealth

The latest research suggests that playing outside is very good for children’s eyesight. It can be hard to drag your children from their digital devices, but for the sake of their eyes and vision try and encourage them to down tools and get out into the fresh air. We are lucky in Dundee with the beach and parks on our doorstep, so get out and enjoy the outdoor life.

Children’s eyecare

It’s not too late to have your children’s eyes examined before they start/go back to school. Children often don’t realise that their vision is not as good as that of their classmates, or that one eye is not as good as the other and they need good vision to make the most of their schooldays. We make the eye examination fun and you can  then be reassured that your child is starting the school year with the best vision possible. If your child does need glasses we have a great range of children’s frames. We all want the very best for our children- so let us take care of their precious eyesight

Driving safely

I’ve recently seen a couple of patients who were unwittingly driving illegally, because their vision wasn’t good enough. Changes can happen so gradually it is easy to drop under the limit without realising it. Usually all that is needed is to wear glasses to correct distance vision- so have your eyes examined for the sake of everyone’s road safety. An anti-reflection coating on your glasses can also help enormously with night-driving. Ring 01382 224620 to book an appointment and let us help you see clearly at all distances.

Choosing new glasses

We’ll transform the way you choose your glasses. Do you hate choosing new frames? Choosing new glasses can be very difficult, but with our great range and friendly expert advice you can be sure of choosing a frame that suits you, and lenses that make the most of your vision- and choosing new frames will become a pleasure, not a trial. Book an appointment on 01382 224620.

 

Healthy eyes

There is so much you can do to keep your eyes healthy; have your eyes examined regularly (ring 01382 224620 to book an appointment with us); don’t smoke; give up smoking if you do smoke; eat healthily with lots of coloured foods; exercise regularly; get out into the fresh air; keep a sensible weight; don’t stare at a screen too long. For further advice  contact us on 01382 224620- we will welcome your call.