What is night blindness? Some believe limited vision at night is normal. Others believe there are no remedies for the condition. Learning about night blindness goes a long way in fostering timely diagnosis and treatment.
Continue reading to learn essential information about night blindness causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What Is Night Blindness?
Night blindness or nyctalopia is an indicator of another eye condition. It mainly occurs when the eye has difficulty adapting to low-light conditions.
This ailment does not imply that patients suffer total night vision blackout; rather they only experience poor night vision. It creates problems when reading road signs while driving or walking at night.
Potential Night Blindness Causes
Some of the underlying eye conditions of night blindness are curable, and we’ll explore a few of the possible night blindness causes below.
The eye has a lens located behind the iris. It is responsible for focusing the light entering the eye producing sharp images seen by the retina. However, issues such as long-term use of steroid medications, past eye surgeries, diabetes, or aging may result in the formation of cataracts that are cloudy lenses.
With time the clouding becomes denser, preventing light from entering the lens, translating to the formation of blurry images. These cataracts induce night blindness.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is a nutrient that supports excellent vision. An insufficient amount in your diet affects the production of rhodopsin, the main pigment component for night vision. Vitamin A deficiencies in your body may cause night blindness.
People who have diabetes may develop diabetic retinopathy, a common eye condition that results in blindness amongst middle-aged adults. This condition develops when high blood sugar damages the nerves and blood vessels in the retina, causing blurry vision translating to night blindness.
Myopia is a common eye condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when far or distant images appear blurry. If you cannot see clearly during the day, it could also lead to difficulties at night, including night blindness.
Eye surgeries, especially laser surgeries, shape the cornea to improve vision. Shaping the cornea affects how light enters and bounces into your eye. You may notice halos around headlights or street lights, especially at night.
This condition occurs when eye pressure affects and damages the eye’s optic nerves. If left untreated, it can result in impaired vision and later permanent blindness.
This scientific name refers to a group of rare eye conditions that affect the retina. Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disease. It results in poor vision in low light, causing night blindness. It currently has no cure, so most individuals lose their sight within a few years.
Signs and Symptoms of Night Blindness
Night blindness is not a condition but a symptom of other underlying eye conditions resulting in poor vision under dim lighting. Individuals affected by night blindness cannot see stars and signs at night. They may also not see obstacles or equipment clearly in a dark room with dim lighting.
Night blindness symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of color vision (mainly if suffering from Retinitis pigmentosa)
Additionally, you should seek medical attention if you have any of these night blindness symptoms:
- Seeing glare and halos around lights
- Trouble seeing objects from a distance
- Straining to see objects in a dark room
- Trouble adjusting your eyes from bright areas to dark ones and vice versa
Night Blindness Diagnosis
Once you realize you are suffering from night blindness symptoms, consider scheduling a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you.
Your eye doctor will only be able to diagnose you with night blindness by conducting a thorough eye examination. They will first ask you questions about your medical history to determine whether your eye issue is genetically induced or has developed over time due to environmental factors. They may perform tests to identify any signs of eye infections or vision disturbances, such as:
- Using the Pelli-Robson Contrast Sensitivity chart to detect night blindness
- Draw blood tests to determine your glucose and vitamin A levels
If the tests for vitamin A deficiency come out positive, you may suffer from night blindness. On the other hand, abnormal glucose levels may affect your retinal health and vision.
Treatments for Night Blindness
If you have a night blindness diagnosis, you probably have several questions, such as: What is night blindness treatment like? Do you have options? Will you need more than one treatment for night blindness? Let’s take a look at a few of the treatment options for night blindness below:
- Cataracts: These cloudy lenses can be removed through surgery. The eye surgeon you’re referred to by your eye doctor may replace the damaged lens with an artificial one improving your vision significantly.
- Retinitis pigmentosa: This condition is untreatable; however, low vision aids and rehabilitation programs may help RP patients make the most out of their vision.
- Vitamin A deficiency: This can be treated using vitamin A supplements regulating your vitamin A levels translating to normal vision.
- Diabetes: If you have night blindness due to diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may recommend taking the proper medication for diabetes as part of your treatment for night blindness. They may also recommend laser treatment and surgery to treat the damaged nerves and blood vessels.
- Myopia: Short-sighted individuals can reduce their night vision problems using prescribed corrective lenses, including contact lenses and eyeglasses. They can also undergo corneal refractive therapy to reshape their cornea reducing night blindness.
- Glaucoma: Treating this condition involves laser eye surgeries and eye drops.
- Laser eye surgeries: Refractive eye surgeries may result in the formation of halos whenever you look at glaring lights. Your doctor may recommend adding an anti-reflective coating on your contact lenses or glasses to reduce the residual effects of eye surgeries.
Ways To Prevent Night Blindness
In most cases, night blindness is unavoidable if you were born with congenital disabilities or a genetic condition such as Retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Your doctors may offer different preventative measures that help you maintain normal vision reducing the effects of night blindness. These include:
- Wearing sunglasses: Helps protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.
- Eating a healthy diet: Patients are recommended to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants and nutrients. You may choose foods such as carrots, pumpkins, spinach, eggs, milk, mangoes, and sweet potatoes that are high in vitamin A.
- Reducing alcohol intake: Studies show that high alcohol consumption may increase the risk of age-related cataracts. It is better to reduce your alcohol intake to prevent any risk of getting night blindness.
- Scheduling regular eye checkups: Though you may not suffer from severe eye problems, regular eye examinations may help detect eye problems in their earliest stages. Doctors recommend that parents take their kids every six months of pediatric eye exams to determine their optimal eye development.
- Exercising: Regular exercising may lower your blood glucose levels and eye pressure reducing the risk of eye conditions.
Night blindness mainly depends on the cause. If you notice some night blindness symptoms, consider seeing an eye doctor for a further eye examination. After conducting thorough eye tests, your doctor may pinpoint whether you are suffering from cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, and myopia, among other conditions.Your doctor will determine the type treatment for night blindness that’s best for you, which may involve laser eye surgeries in severe cases. Ultimately, if you have night blindness, ensure that you take precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy. Contact Art of Optiks today to speak to one of our talented eye doctors about your struggles with night blindness.