Night Blindness – What is it?

Night blindness or Nyctalopia is a condition in which a person has difficulty seeing at night, or in dimly lit environments. Those who suffer from night blindness may have a hard time performing tasks in the dark. Driving at night and seeing in the dark may be difficult with passing headlights. In this situation, the pupil is forced to contract and dilate repeatedly, as it continually adjusts.

What Causes Night Blindness?

Night blindness in itself is not a disease, but rather a symptom of another underlying issue. There are several different eye conditions and diseases that can impair a person’s vision in the dark.

Vitamin A Deficiency (Keratomalacia)

Extreme deficiencies in Vitamin A, caused by diet and or disorders in which the body has a difficult time absorbing Vitamin A, can cause night blindness. Early symptoms of Keratomalacia include difficulty seeing at night or in dimly light environments. Vitamin A, found in carrots and other specific vegetables, plays an important role in your vision health.

Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness occurs when the eye doesn’t refract or focus light as it ideally should causing objects up close to appear blurry or fuzzy. There are many different treatment options if your night blindness is caused by nearsightedness.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes increased, intraocular pressure to build up in the eye, and can damage the retina. Glaucoma is often inherited and people don’t generally see symptoms until later in life. Eye damage from glaucoma can make it difficult to see things in low light situations, and can result in night blindness. Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness over the course of just a couple years.

Retinus pigmentosa

Retinus Pigmentosa is a genetic condition which causes degeneration of the retina. Retinus Pigmentosa or RP for short, most often causes peripheral vision loss and on occasion can affect your central vision as well. RP and other genetic eye disorders like Usher Syndrome are not treatable, and those diagnosed with the condition should avoid driving at night.

Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of your eyes natural lens. Cataracts primarily affects those over the age of 40 and causes a person’s vision to appear cloudy and fuzzy. Symptoms of cataracts can become more apparent during the night and in dimly lit environments. Talk to our eye specialists about treatment options if you think you may be developing cataracts or your think your cataracts may be getting worse.

Treating Night Blindness

Night blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiencies, Nearsightedness, Glaucoma, and Cataracts is treatable. If you’re having difficulty seeing at night, your doctor will conduct a comprehensive eye exam and conduct a thorough examination of your medical history to determine what is causing your night blindness. Blood tests may be used to examine your glucose and Vitamin A levels.

Unfortunately night blindness caused by genetic disorders such as retinus pigmentosa isn’t treatable. If you’re experiencing night blindness from a genetic disorder, the severity of your symptoms can be helped by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet high in vitamin A, and monitoring your glucose levels.