We talk about the importance of nutrition for eye health, but the impact poor nutrition can have on eyesight is extreme. One set of parents learned how much their son’s eating habits affected his eyes when their physicians identified their 17-year-old as legally blind due to his poor nutrition.
Picky Eating Can Lead to Vision Loss
CNN shared an article detailing the case study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The boy was an extremely picky eater, sticking to a diet of chips, French fries, processed meats, and white bread.
"Fussy eating is very common in young children and in extreme cases can lead to very limited choice of food. There is a need to pick up on eating problems such as these as early as possible so the issue around limited textures and tastes can be addressed." Gary Frost, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at Imperial College London
The picky eating habits of the young man in the case study were never addressed. At 14, he was found to be Vitamin B deficient and anemic but with a normal BMI and no direct signs of malnutrition. The physician prescribed Vitamin B injections and dietary consultation, with follow-up visits in the future. Not following this advice, his vision and hearing abilities were wavering a year later, and at 17, he lost his ability to see.
A Heavy Nutritional Impact
Along with Vitamin B deficiency and anemia, the boy had:
- Low copper and selenium levels
- Higher zinc levels
- Low Vitamin D and bone level density
Healthcare practitioners determined nutrition optic neuropathy caused the boy's vision loss – a dysfunction of the main nerve responsible for vision. Usually found in under-developed countries, this dysfunction is rarely caused by poor nutrition alone, but it’s reversible if discovered early enough. Unfortunately, the boy’s vision loss is permanent. Lead author of the study Denize Atan, an ophthalmologist at Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital, urges people to consider the connection of eye health and nutrition.
"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."
Time to Act
This case, and the potential for cases like it, calls for parents and practitioners to focus even more on nutrition. Nutritional discussions need to go beyond BMI and weight. Talk about what is commonly eaten, what isn’t, and what foods may be missing. Even more importantly, follow suggestions and recommendations made by healthcare professionals. Frost goes on to say, "Although it is an extreme example, it highlights the importance of having a wide and varied diet to ensure that you get the profile of nutrients and micronutrients that are needed for healthy development."
It can be difficult to get children to eat such a variety of foods. However, nutritional supplementation can be a simple way to get kids the nutrients they need to support their growing bodies. Ingredients specific for eye health are even more difficult to get through diet alone. EyePromise® Screen Shield™ Teen delivers high-quality, natural, eye-healthy ingredients in a simple, one-a-day chewable tablet. Screen Shield Teen:
- Complements a child's daily multi-vitamin
- Contains 100% natural zeaxanthin and lutein, critical antioxidants for healthy vision
- Is GMO, gluten, and sugar free
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