A teenage boy is being treated by eye doctors at Bristol for nutritional optic neuropathy, a disorder brought about by severe malnutrition. The boy, who remains unnamed, had his vitamin levels and found he was low in B12, copper, selenium and vitamin D.
A normal diet would help account for these defiiciences, but the boy suffers from avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder. Dr Denize Atan, who treated the boy, said "he explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat."
The ARFID awareness site described the condition as more than just being a picky eater.
ARFID is characterised by a pattern of eating that avoids certain foods or food groups entirely and/or is restricted in quantity (eating small amounts). Avoidant and restrictive eating cannot be due to lack of available food, or cultural norms (e.g. someone who is fasting or chooses not to eat certain foods for religious or cultural reasons alone).
Since leaving primary school, the boy subsisted on only French fries, Pringles and white bread, as well as an occasional slice of ham or a sausage. This created a vitamin deficiency in his body that affected his vision, called nutritional optic neuropathy. It is treatable if caught early. The boy has been put on vitamin suppliments and a monitored diet change, which will hopefully restore some of his vision.
From the BBC article:
For those who are concerned, [Dr. Atan] advised: "It's best not to be anxious about picky eating, and instead calmly introduce one or two new foods with every meal."
She said multivitamin tablets can supplement a diet, but are not a substitute for eating healthily.
"It's much better to take on vitamins through a varied and balanced diet," she said, adding that too much of certain vitamins, including vitamin A, can be toxic, "so you don't want to overdo it".
Dr Atan said vegans are also at increased risk of B12 deficiency-related sight problems if they do not replace what they can lack when excluding meat from their diet.
"Nutritional yeast is a way of adding B12 to your diet," she said.