Having Difficulty Seeing at Night?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, May 18, 2021
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Do you find it difficult seeing while driving at night or reading in a dimly lit room?

You most likely have nyctalopia, also known as night blindness.

Night blindness is the reduced ability to see at night or in dimly lit environments.  The outer edges of the eye’s retina contain rod cells that are responsible for night vision and detecting movement. When these rod cells are damaged, it becomes difficult to see at night.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and manage your eye condition.

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What Are Symptoms of Night Blindness?

The main symptom of night blindness is difficulty adapting to or seeing in dark environments.

For example, walking into a dark movie theater can be challenging for a person with night blindness, because it may take longer for their eyes to adjust to the darkened theater.

Patients with night blindness often have difficulty driving at night. Road signs may look blurred, and it may be difficult to see pedestrians on the road or sidewalk. They may also squint while driving at night to improve their vision.

Individuals with night blindness may also have reduced contrast sensitivity, which means it’s harder to tell the difference between two adjacent objects of the same or similar color.

What Causes Night Blindness? 

Night blindness isn’t a standalone condition.  Rather it’s a possible symptom of several conditions, including:

  1. Myopia (nearsightedness) –  objects in the distance appear blurred; people with myopia often experience some degree of night blindness, especially when driving.
  2. Cataracts – the clouding of the lens that can make vision dim and increase glare and light distortion.
  3. Glaucoma –  increased pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve and retina.
  4. Vitamin A deficiency – vitamin A or retinol is found in greens, eggs, liver, orange vegetables, eggs and butter. Retinitis pigmentosa – a genetic disease that changes the way the retina responds to light.
  5. Usher syndrome – causes night-blindness and a loss of peripheral (side) vision through the progressive degeneration of cells in the retina.
  6. Keratoconus – when the outer layer of the eye, the cornea, thins and becomes deformed.
  7. Diabetes – high blood sugar  can damage the blood vessels of the eye and retina, a condition called diabetic retinopathy.

To learn which condition is causing your night blindness, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you who will  pinpoint the underlying problem.

How is night blindness treated?

Depending on the source, there are several different ways to treat a patient’s night blindness.

If it’s myopia, a change in lens prescription may do the trick.

If cataracts are found, cataract surgery may be the solution.

For those with a Vitamin A deficiency, supplemental Vitamin A may be prescribed to support eye health.

If you have night blindness, an eye doctor can help by finding the root cause of the problem, and suggest the most appropriate treatment to relieve your symptoms. 

If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of night blindness, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you.