Can a Poor Diet Really Lead to Blindness?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted September 09, 2019

A 17-year-old boy in Bristol, England, is permanently blind, doctors said, because he was an “extremely fussy eater.” So fussy, in fact, that he would only eat French fries, potato chips, and white bread, with “occasional” servings of ham and sausage, the BBC reported.

The teen had complained of fatigue at age 14 and was put on a course of vitamin supplements. But he didn’t follow through and remained with his restricted diet.

According to the BBC, the Annals of Internal Medicine scientific journal reported the teen “was taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital because of progressive sight loss.” Dr. Denize Atan told the BBC, “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.”

Tests revealed that the boy’s body was low in vitamin B12, as well as copper, selenium, and vitamin D. “He had lost minerals from his bone, which was really quite shocking for a boy of his age,” Dr. Atan said.

Teen Now Legally Blind

The young man also met the legal criteria for being registered as a blind person. “He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” Dr. Atan told the BBC. “That means he can't drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV, or discern faces.”

According to the BBC report, “Nutritional optic neuropathy—the condition the young man has—is treatable if diagnosed early. Left too long, however, the nerve fibers in the optic nerve die and the damage becomes permanent.”

The greatest tragedy in this tragic story, perhaps, is the fact that this could have been prevented. Had he responded to the advice given at age 14 and stayed on the vitamin regime, the damage might have been avoided. And if he does suffer from what is called avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, it is possible that some form of treatment might have helped.

Instead, there’s a 17-year-old in Bristol, England, who will have some options in his life out of reach because of something that could have been avoided.

Of course, going to extremes in diet is nothing new: beginning with “Dr. Stoll’s Diet Air,” a liquid “meal replacement” drink in the 1930s, other drink-based diet plans have come and gone, including juicing diets, a cabbage soup diet, and any number of shakes touted as ways to lose weight. Add fad diets such as the “Beverly Hills Diet,” the “Drinking Man’s Diet,” and “Fit for Life,” all of which lacked widespread medical acceptance, and you’ve got a recipe for potential health difficulties.



Are All Foods Now Clean?



Maker’s Health Rules Available

This leaves the question, of course, about what diet is or is not good for us? Might there be a guide that could provide us with some ironclad direction?

It turns out, there is. Just as your car—or your toaster oven—came with an instruction book from the manufacturer, we humans were supplied with a similar instruction manual from our Creator. That “manual” is, of course, the Bible. And the instructions are found throughout its pages.

Let’s start with a premise: God wants us to be well. In 3 John 2, we read, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” It’s right to be healthy and to want to be in good health.

However, there are rules of health that we need to follow. One of them concerns diet. In Genesis 1:29, 30,  the Bible says, “God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.”

Many believers have understood this to mean that a plant-based diet is the one God intended for His creation. It is true that the consumption of meat was allowed after the global flood, but the Bible also  differentiates between “clean” and “unclean” animals when it comes to food. However, the original diet prescribed for humanity was plant-based.

And a vegetarian diet has been credited with helping people live long, healthy, and happy lives. The famous “Blue Zone” study highlighted the town of Loma Linda, California, where vegetarians predominate, as a place where living vibrantly to age 100 is “no big deal.”

It’s important to note that the vegetarians living in Loma Linda—and elsewhere—strive to eat a balanced diet of all sorts of fruits and vegetables, paying close attention to those plant-based sources of protein and essential vitamins that preserve all of the body’s functions, including eyesight. There’s no fanaticism or asceticism to be found there either. It’s not extreme living, but simple living.

There is also temperance, which signifies both self-control and abstaining from harmful substances—including tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Paul, in his counsel to believers in the province of Galatia, put it this way: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21).

Pastor Doug Batchelor has shared eight Bible-based principles for healthful living in an eye-opening two-part series now available online. And, our free-of-charge online Bible study, “God’s Free Health Plan,”, will give you the inside scoop on how to achieve optimal health by following God’s Word.


Amazing Health Secrets: Eight Bible Principles for a Longer Life, Pt. 1

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