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Boy With Food Allergies Went Blind From Highly Restrictive Diet

An 11-year-old boy is blind from a diet that consisted of mostly pork lamb, potatoes and Cheerios. The boy was found to have a severe vitamin deficiency due to the restrictive diet. His loss of sight might have been prevented, but his parents ignored his vision problems for months.

An 11-year-old unnamed boy from Toronto, Canada was taken to a hospital after his eyesight had grown increasingly worse over a period of eight months. The doctors found the child's vision was severely impaired and assessed that it was probably due to a vitamin A deficiency.

The patient’s eyes also showed signs of severe dryness. The doctor detected 'Bitot spots', or raised, dry patches on the surface of the child's eye. Vitamin A deficiency contributes to this.

Parents of the boy admitted to the doctors that the child had a number of food allergies and eczema, which was triggered by eating certain foods. Because of the allergies and skin conditions, they had been feeding him a very restrictive diet. They say the boy's food intake was limited to pork, lamb, potatoes, Cheerios, apples and cucumbers.

Unfortunately, none of those foods are an adequate source of vitamin A, and this proved to be the problem with a simple blood test. Doctors tested the boy's blood and found that his vitamin A levels were at 14.3 mgs per deciliter. A normal, healthy level of vitamin A is 25.8 to 48.7 mg per deciliter.

"Vitamin A deficiency is very common in poorer parts of the world, where it is a leading cause of blindness," Dr. Eyal Cohen, the boy's pediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He notes that highly restrictive diets are usually behind such deficiencies.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that helps the eyes to function properly. Without the vitamin, abnormalities can develop, particularly in the retina.

In addition to the vitamin deficiency, the doctor noted that the boy's eyes were severely dry, which can result in a buildup of material in the cornea.

Parents say the boy's vision was worsening for months before they finally brought him in to be examined. By the time he got medical attention, he could only detect motion that occurred within 12 inches of his face.

The child was treated with mega doses of Vitamin A for the next two weeks. Within six weeks, his eyesight had improved, although some of the damage may never repair. The boy’s vision is currently 20/800; a person is considered legally blind if their vision is worse than 20/200. Due to the extensive damage already done to his eyes, the boy may never fully regain his sight, and corrective lenses may not be enough to correct the problem.

The boy's parents have started including more vitamin A-rich foods in his diet, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy green vegetables and fish to help prevent further problems in the future.

The case was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics by Cohen.

Source: Fox News
Photo: American Medical Association

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