National & International

Diet of chips leaves teenager deaf and blind

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A teenager has been left blind and deaf after living off a diet of chips, crisps and sausages.

The youngster’s family, from Bristol, realised something was seriously wrong when he began to lose his hearing at the age of 14.

His eyesight also quickly deteriorated and he has now been left with no job and no social life as a result, his mother says.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said her son began going off his meals when he was about seven years old and would only eat chips, Pringles, sausages, processed ham and white bread.

She said: “The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched. 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.”

Those suffering from the condition often avoid food with a certain texture, smell, taste or appearance, or only eat it at a certain temperature, according to eating disorder charity Beat.

The teenager’s lack of nutrition severely damaged his optic nerve, causing a condition known as nutritional optic neuropathy (NON).

Dr Denize Atan, who has been caring for the teenager, said the unnamed patient is still eating mostly the same food – although his nutrition has improved through vitamin supplements.

“Nutrients are extremely important for vision and hearing – but a lot of people are not aware of that.”

The family agreed for the case to be reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine to raise awareness of ARFID and the importance of nutrition for good eye and ear health.

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