A Case Study Linked Poor Nutrition to Blindness

Posted On: 09-06-2019
A Case Study Linked Poor Nutrition to Blindness
According to a new case report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, an extreme case of picky eating led to blindness in a young patient.

The researchers who presented the case study recommend that healthcare professionals consider nutritional optic neuropathy in patients with unexplained vision symptoms and poor diet in order to avoid permanent blindness, regardless of the patient’s BMI.

Nutritional optic neuropathy is characterized by dysfunction of the optic nerve. It is reversible if caught early, but can lead to permanent optic nerve damage and blindness if not treated. The most common causes of this neuropathy are bowel problems and medications that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. It’s typically only linked to dietary issues in less developed countries.

The case was examined by clinician scientists from the Bristol Eye Hospital and Bristol Medical School. The patient in the case was a teenager who first visit his primary doctor due to fatigue. By the time the connection was made between nutrition and vision, the patient’s vision impairment had become permanent.

The patient was a “picky eater” and had a normal BMI. He also had no signs of malnutrition and took no medications. He was initially treated with vitamin B12 injections. A year later, the patient had hearing loss and vision symptoms. By the time the patient reached age 17, his vision had worsened to the point of blindness. At this point, the patient had a vitamin B12 deficiency, low selenium and copper levels, high zinc level, and reduced bone density. His diet consisted mostly of chips, white bread, and processed pork.

The researchers concluded that this diet had led to a limited intake of nutrients and resulted in nutritional optic neuropathy.

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