Teen goes blind from eating junk food
A Mum says her 18-year-old son has gone blind after eating only chips, crisps and chocolate since he was two.
Kerry James, 45, was concerned when her teenage son Harvey Dyer told her he was unable see out of his left eye suddenly last October.
The mum-of-five, from Gloucester, England, took him to their local Specsavers where opticians told them to go straight to hospital.
Doctors carried out tests and found all of his vitamin and mineral levels were dangerously low.
They initially thought he might have a rare condition called Leber's disease, which is a hereditary optic nerve disorder that causes vision loss.
But tests came back clear leaving medics to put it down to lack of nutrition in his diet.
It comes after it was revealed a boy from Bristol went legally blind at the age of 17 after eating only sausages, chips, Pringles, white bread and processed ham.
Kerry is speaking out about her son's condition after friends tagged her in the story on Facebook.
She told The Sun: "We thought we were the only ones. In a way it give us a bit of hope.
"It's been really tough. Because it's so different and no one's heard of it, it's been a struggle to get the help and support we need.
"Harvey thinks his life is over and he doesn't want to do it. It's made him very depressed."
Kerry explained that Harvey, who has ADHD and autism, has eaten the same foods since he was two.
She said: "He only eats chips, Quavers, Wotsits [similar to Cheetos and Cheezels] and Dairy Milk for every meal.
"Harvey was diagnosed with ADHD and is on the autistic spectrum so we've always put it down to textures.
"He can't physically eat anything else - he won't even take things like medicine.
"We've tried anything and everything - it's been so hard."
Kerry says she's fought to get him help and even had a paediatric team come and sit with them at meal times.
She added: "It's not that he doesn't want to eat other foods - he really does.
"He has asked about hypnotherapy and we've been to eating disorder clinics."
But matters took a turn in October last year when Harvey suddenly lost the vision in his left eye.
Kerry said: "He went out one day and when he came back he said to be he wasn't going out any more because he couldn't see and was worried he would get run over.
"I said to him, 'don't be so stupid', but now I feel so guilty."
She decided to take Harvey, who had never had problems with his sight, to get his eyes tested and that was when the optician referred him to the hospital.
After various tests, the family were left with no answers.
Kerry said: "Once they said it wasn't Leber's disease we were left dangling and we didn't really know what to do."
She said that they believe he has an eating disorder known as avoidance restricted food intake disorder (ARFID).
Harvey is currently under the care of the gastroenterology team at Gloucester Royal Hospital where he is waiting to have a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), she added.
It's a procedure where a tube is passed into the patient's stomach, through the abdominal wall, as a means of feeding when eating orally isn't adequate.
Kerry said that while he waits to have the operation, Harvey's life has been on hold - while the sight in his right eye is starting to deteriorate now too.
"He's not doing anything at the moment because of his health," she said.
"He just wants to save that little bit of sight he has in his right eye.
"I don't think the vision in his left eye will ever come back - the optical nerve was very pale.
"The right eye could improve but that was back in January. Now it's September and without that input they have wasted that time.
"Because the doctors don't know what it is themselves, they've just been treating it like a normal procedure.
"But for me it's an emergency."
In the other case, it was too late to save the teenager's sight and he had also gone partially deaf.
The boy, known only as Jake, was initially diagnosed with anaemia, given vitamin injections and told to eat plenty of meat and veg.
But a year later, he developed problems with his sight and hearing - leaving medics stumped.
He was eventually diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy aged 17 after tests revealed he had vitamin B12 deficiency and low copper and selenium levels.
The condition is usually caused by drugs or poor diet combined with alcoholism or smoking.
Jake told medics at Bristol Eye Hospital he did not drink, take drugs or smoke but had eaten a limited diet for years - including regular sausages and chips takeaways.
Jake, now 19, wears a hearing aid and is unable to work.
WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL OPTIC NEUROPATHY?
The condition is caused by a dysfunction of the optic nerve caused by a lack of certain nutrients.
It is commonly found in people with a folic acid and vitamin B deficiency associated with poor dietary habits or in chronic alcoholics.
The disease causes a painless decrease in vision but if caught early, can be treated with dietary supplements to replenish the missing nutrients.
However, if left untreated or not immediately linked to nutrition, it can lead to optic nerve atrophy - damage to the cluster of nerves that carry visual information to the brain.
This story first appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.