Teenager goes blind and deaf due to diet of chips, burgers and crisps

The mother of a teenager who lost his sight and hearing after living off a diet of chips, bangers and crisps told how it has devastated his life.

By Alex Evans
Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 2:01 pm
A diet of crisps and chips led a teenager to go blind
A diet of crisps and chips led a teenager to go blind

She said her son can't find work and had to give up a college course in IT because of his impairments.

The mum said he began going off his meals when he was about seven years old - and would only eat chips, Pringles, sausages, processed ham and white bread.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: "The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched.

"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. But he was just as fit and healthy as them.

"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."

The family, from Bristol, only realised something was seriously wrong when his hearing began going at the age of 14 - and his vision soon afterwards.

The woman, whose husband is a tarmacer, 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 boy suffers from an eating disorder known as ARFID (avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder).

His lack of nutrition wrecked the optic nerve - causing a condition known as nutritional optic neuropathy (NON).

His mum, in her 40s, said: "We couldn't believe it when we were told what had happened.

"Dr Denize Atan, who has been looking after us, has been wonderful. I don't think we could have got through it without her support.

"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."

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.

They wish to remain anonymous.

The woman explained: "My son doesn't want all his old classmates talking about it."