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Report: A Teen Went Blind From Eating Too Much Processed Food

It's a condition called nutritional optic neuropathy.
PHOTO: istockphoto

Ever have one of those moments when you feel like a slice of pizza (or three) is all you need to get you through the day? Or that feeling of waking up knowing that as a fully grown adult, you can technically have anything you want for breakfast—even if it's french fries? But even if we can, it doesn't mean we should. Self-care is important, but there are repercussions to indulging in too much comfort (read: processed) food. 

A 17-year-old boy found this out the hard way. According to a case study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, a teenage boy went blind because he only ate processed food for years. Apparently, he was an extremely picky eater, choosing to exclusively eat french fries, chips, processed sausage, white bread, and ham since before puberty hit. 

At 14, he started complaining about always being tired and was diagnosed with anemia and B vitamin deficiency. A year later, he started to lose his ability to hear. According to researchers at the Bristol Eye Hospital and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, he also had a hard time seeing. At 17, he completely lost his eyesight. 

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What happened?

The blindness that resulted from this unhealthy diet is due to a condition called nutritional optic neuropathy. The optic nerve was damaged by the lack of nutrients in his diet, namely lfolic acid and B vitamins, which are responsible for healthy cell maintenance. This can be treated if detected early, usually by providing the patient with the right nutrients. Unfortunately, the blindness becomes permanent once the nerves are damaged, which is what happened to the boy in the study.

Though this is a rare case, we urge you to incorporate more vegetables and healthy carbs into your diet—even if it means eating fewer fries. 

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