man driving at night

Night Blindness

Although most people have trouble seeing in the dark, for others it can become a literal impairment which makes driving at night dangerous.

An eye doctor can easily diagnose and treat night blindness, or nyctalopia, and rule out underlying eye diseases or genetic disorders.

How do you know if you have night blindness or just have trouble seeing in the dark?

man driving at night

How Night Blindness Affects Your Quality of Life

Difficulty Driving at Night

While studies have found that driving at night is already disproportionately more dangerous than driving in the daytime, you may find it difficult to see other cars or pedestrians while driving at night.

Crashing into Walls or Tripping

Night blindness can make it difficult to navigate your own home during the nighttime

Slow Adjustment to Light

If your eyes take especially long to adjust to new light or dark environments, you may have some degree of night blindness.

Older Patients and Populations with Poor Nutrition Are at Higher Risk

Aging, genetic disposition, and malnutrition can increase your risk of experiencing the symptoms of night blindness. 

But how is it caused?

The Most Common Causes of Night Blindness

Malnutrition or Vitamin Deficiency

Lack of vitamin A intake through foods such as carrots and leafy greens can also contribute to vision problems. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a vitamin deficiency can inhibit the production of certain pigments in the retina, which causes night blindness.

Cataracts Cause Night Blindness

According to Cure Blindness, cataracts are to blame for 50 percent of treatable cases of blindness. Cataracts occur when the lens becomes clouded, which affects your vision both during the daytime and at night.

Serious Diseases and Genetic Disorders

Glaucoma, diabetes, and retinitis pigmentosa can also cause night blindness. Although an eye doctor can manage some of the symptoms, there are no immediate cures available for these disorders. 

"Treating night blindness depends solely on its cause...Your ophthalmologist can explain what is causing your night blindness and suggest how to brighten your outlook."  American Academy of Ophthalmology

How to Lower Your Risk of Night Blindness

Work Towards a Healthy Overall Lifestyle

As night blindness has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain liver disorders, keeping your overall health in good shape can help you avoid problems with your vision. 

Protect Your Eyes

As prolonged sun exposure can cause cataracts, protecting your eyes prevents cloudy lenses and their uncomfortable side effects. Wear sunglasses or goggles when engaging in outdoor activities.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

A proper diet lowers your risk of night blindness caused by a vitamin deficiency. Foods rich in vitamin A are often orange in color and include carrots, mango, and spinach, and should be regularly incorporated into your diet. 

A Routine Eye Exam Can Reveal Underlying Issues

Your doctor will typically dilate your eyes using drops then use a slit-lamp to assess the health of your eyes.

Depending on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may also perform genetic testing or blood tests to check your vitamin and glucose levels

Night Blindness Treatment Approaches

Vitamin Supplements Can Reduce Your Symptoms

If your symptoms are being caused by a vitamin A deficiency, your doctor may recommend taking supplements

Cataract Surgery Can Reduce Your Dependency on Glasses

Cataract-induced night blindness can be treated with cataract surgery, which will replace a cloudy lens with an intraocular lens

Managing Your Symptoms by Diagnosing Underlying Diseases

Although genetic defects or disorders such as glaucoma are not treatable with corrective lenses or surgery, a diagnosis can help your doctor better manage your condition. 

Schedule an Eye Exam

If your night blindness is caused by a treatable condition, your doctor can prescribe lenses or surgery to restore your nighttime visual acuity. Even if there is no treatment for your condition, your doctor can help you develop a management strategy that helps reduce the risk of total blindness. To prepare for your exam, compile a list of medications, medical history, and concerns to review with your doctor

Byron W. Biscoe, MD

Laser Vision Institute of the Virgin Islands

Byron W. Biscoe, MD, has been in practice since 1994. He is a member of a number of distinguished organizations:

  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc.
  • International Society of Refractive Surgery

Contact us online to ask a question or request a consultation. You can also reach us by phone at (340) 774-3003.

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