A family in Bristol has expressed their sorrow over the teenage son who is facing irreparable loss of sight after living on a poor diet consisting mostly of potato chips, white bread, and processed meats.
The 19 year old had always been a picky eater from a very young age: refusing to eat fruits and vegetables due to his intolerance to their texture. His restrictive diet resulted in nutritional optic neuropathy. If diagnosed early enough, it can be treated, however, in this situation the fibres in the teen’s optic nerve had been severely damaged to the point where his deterioration in sight is thought to be permanent.
The boy’s mother explained how her son was unsuccessful at finding a job and he also had to drop a college course in IT. She mentioned that her son developed his picky eating habits around the age of seven, where he would only eat chips, crisps, processed ham, sausages, and white bread.
How it started
“The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched,” the boy’s mother stated. “I would make him nice sandwiches and put an apple or other fruit in and he wouldn’t eat any of it. His teachers became concerned, too. His brother and sister have never stopped eating. They love everything. 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.”
When the young man reached the age of 14, the family recognized that his hearing got noticeably worse, followed shortly by his vision.
The mother said, “His sight went downhill very fast to the point where he is now legally blind. He has no social life to speak of now. After leaving school he got into college to do a course in IT, but he had to give it up because he could not see or hear anything. He would love a job, but he has not been able to find anything he can do. I had to quit my job in a pub. I now look after him full-time. He is taking vitamin supplements, but his diet is still pretty much the same. When he was having counselling we managed to start him on fruit smoothies. But he’s gone off those now.”
The teen is believed to suffer from an eating disorder known as ARFID – avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. Those who have this disorder are usually sensitive to tastes, textures, smells, and the appearance of particular foods.
The mother further commented, “We couldn’t believe it when we were told what had happened. We are told the damage is irreversible. It’s been a nightmare. My son would love a job where he can sit at a desk and be useful. His siblings are doing well. It’s heartbreaking.”