A young lad has been left blind and deaf after eating a diet of processed food for over a decade.
The teenager would only eat things like crisps, chips, sausages and white bread, and his family realised something was wrong when his hearing started deteriorating when he was 14.
He also began to lose his eyesight, and according to his mum the teen now has no job or social life as a result.
His mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the lad started going off his food when he was seven, and would only eat chips, sausages, Pringles, processed ham and white bread.
The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched. His brother and sister have never stopped eating. They love everything. But he was just as fit and healthy as them. He has always been skinny so we had no weight concerns. You hear about junk food and obesity all the time – but he was as thin as a rake.
He’s now 19, and has been diagnosed with ARFID (avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder), an eating disorder where sufferers avoid food with a certain smell, taste, texture or appearance.
The lack of nutrition he got from his diet severely damaged his optic nerve, leading to a condition known as nutritional optic neuropathy (NON).
His mother said:
We couldn’t believe it when we were told what had happened. His sight went downhill very fast – to the point where he is now legally blind. We are told the damage is irreversible; it’s been a nightmare. He has no social life to speak of now. After leaving school he got into college to do a course in IT but he had to give it up because he could not see or hear anything.
Dr Denize Atan, of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, has been caring for the teen, and while he’s still eating a lot of the same foods his nutrition has improved through vitamin supplements.
Dr Atan says a lack of nutrients can severely impact vision and hearing, and not a lot of people are aware of this, adding: “The processed food was not the problem per se. It was he was only eating that type of food and nothing else.”