A new case study has linked blindness to poor eating habits.
The case was reviewed at the University of Bristol and the researchers recommended that clinicians consider nutritional optic neuropathy in patients who appear to have unexplained vision symptoms and poor eating habits. They also suggested that this be looked at regardless of BMI.
What exactly is nutritional optic neuropathy? It is a condition in which there is a dysfunction of the optic nerve. This is extremely important for vision, but the condition is reversible if caught early enough. If it is left untreated, it can lead to damage to the optic nerve and potential blindness.
In the United Kingdom, they see this most often when patients have bowel problems or drugs that interfere with the consumption of necessary nutrients from the stomach. But in malnourished countries around the world, diet is very much linked to the higher rates of nutritional optic neuropathy.
The patient that brought this case report only showed signs of feeling very tired. The doctor saw no signs of malnutrition, other than the patient being a “fussy” eater, and he had a normal BMI and took no medications. The first results showed macrocytic anemia and low vitamin B12 levels. The patient was provided with treatments to fix this but returned a year later with hearing loss and vision problems. The next test showed the patient had vitamin 12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level, and notably reduced vitamin D and bone mineral density levels. By this point, impaired vision was permanent.
Researchers concluded that the patient’s junk food diet and limited intake of nutritional vitamins were the cause in the onset of nutritional optic neuropathy. With the poor diets that many people, especially teenagers, have today, there is tremendous fear that this will become a more frequent occurrence. The team recommends that dietary history should be a part of any routine clinical exam.