A recent case study exposed the importance of a healthy diet after a young patient went blind for not consuming proper nutrition. Researchers from the University of Bristol, who studied the case, recommended that clinicians should take into account nutritional optic neuropathy in patients that mysteriously show signs of vision issues and improper diet.
Experts say the dysfunction of the optic nerve, essential for vision, is nutritional optic neuropathy. If the condition is caught early it can be reversible. However, patients can go blind if the symptoms are not treated as soon as possible. Bowel issues and drugs that can disrupt the process absorption of various nutrients from the stomach are some of the reasons many develop the condition.
The case was first examined by clinician scientists from Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Eye Hospital when the patient complained to his GP about feeling exhausted. However, the link between poor diet and vision issues was not discovered until much later. Apart from being a "fussy eater," the patient was found to have a normal BMI and showed no signs of malnutrition. He was also not prescribed any medication.
Tests conducted showed he had macrocytic anaemia and low vitamin B12 levels. 12 injections and dietary recommendations were given to treat these issues. However, a year after receiving this treatment he developed hearing loss and suffered from vision symptoms. However, the cause was not yet known.
When his condition was further investigated, health experts found the 17-year-old patient had a vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level,reduced vitamin D level, and bone mineral density.
More data about the patient revealed he consumed a diet of chips, crisps, white bread, and processed pork. 'Junk food' diet and low intake of nutritional foods that contain vitamins and minerals, researchers conclude was the reason for nutritional optic neuropathy.
"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," Dr Denize Atan, the study's lead author and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at Bristol Medical School and Clinical Lead for Neuro-ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital, told a news portal.
Researchers hope the case prompts doctors to look into a patients dietary history even if it is a routine medical examination.
The case was originally reported in theAnnals of Internal Medicine.
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