Teenager Goes Blind After A Strict Diet


Oliver Jamias, Contributor

You can never have too much of something. Right?

As a British teen found out the hard way, having a diet consisting only of a few specific foods can, unsurprisingly, cause damage to one’s body. For years ever since elementary school, the patient ate a diet that exclusively featured french fries, Pringles, white bread,sliced ham, and sausage.  The boy was reportedly a very picky eater, and the foods listed before were the only ones with a texture he was able to tolerate for multiple years.

In 2013 (before any lasting damage had been done), the patient had been diagnosed with ARFID (avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder), which prevented him from being able to eat certain foods due to their texture and taste. However, signs of sickness were first detected during a visit to the doctor at age 14. Reporting constant fatigue, the doctor later diagnosed him with a deficient amount of vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, and selenium, as well as anemia. The doctor also advised him to change his diet and to eat more foods, but the teenager continued to eat the same way he did before.

As time went on, the British teen started to show more and more signs of sickness.  At age 15, despite tests not showing any physical damage to the eyes and ears, the victim’s sight and hearing began to weaken, to the confusion of the doctors, who had yet to know what their patient’s diet consisted of. Two years later, although the boy’s height, weight, BMI, and overall physical status were average, his sight was found out to be 20/200, allowing him to be diagnosed as legally blind due to permanent damage done to the senses.

Due to BMI and calorie intake not necessarily reflecting the foods eaten in one’s diet, doctors were not able to pinpoint the main cause of sickness or provide support to the teen before it was too late. By the time doctors were informed about the diet of the patient, permanent damage to the senses had been done and the vitamin and bone levels of the boy were low. As way to possibly remove the boy’s ARFID, doctors assigned him to a psychiatric hospital due to the case of absolutely refusing to eat certain foods being a mental problem at its core.

Several health and dietary experts have expressed their opinions about this patient’s case, calling it an “extreme case” and “incredibly rare”. Tom Sanders, a nutritionist and dietitian, brought in the possibility that the problems that resulted from this case may not have been caused by the patient’s diet directly, but by outside factors such as genetics and the surrounding environment.  Gary Frost, also a nutritionist and dietitian, stated that this case was a prime example of the importance of a varied and healthy diet and why picky eating habits have to be addressed as early as possible. Aisling Pigott, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, used the results from the case as a way to emphasize how important nutritional food is to one’s general health.