The researchers at Bristol Eye Hospital and Bristol Medical School concluded that the patient’s ‘junk food’ diet and limited intake of nutritional vitamins and minerals resulted in blindness.
There are also concerns that the vegan diet could mean not enough B12 is consumed also leading to impaired vision. Healthwatch wants to support patient awareness and education to help people stay well.
In this particularly case study the teenage patient showed no obvious signs of malnutrition and was a normal height and weight. However the person had been a fussy eater and since starting secondary school, the patient had consumed a limited diet of chips, crisps, white bread, and some processed pork.
But when the patient visited the GP a year later, hearing loss and vision symptoms had developed, but no cause was found. By age 17, the patient’s vision had progressively worsened, to the point of blindness.
Further investigation found the patient had vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level, and markedly reduced vitamin D level and bone mineral density.
Dr Denize Atan, the study’s lead author and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at Bristol Medical School and Clinical Lead for Neuro-ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital, 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.”