Do you have difficulty seeing at night?Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. Drs. Dianna Leong and Andrew Chan want you to clearly see 24/7.
Causes of Night Blindness
The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:
Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps build up the rhodopsin within rod receptors in the retina. It also reduces dry eye by improving tear function to keep the cornea clear. Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of Vitamin A can induce night blindness.
Cataracts — Behind the iris is a natural crystalline lens that is transparent when you are born, but gradually gets more cloudy with exposure to UV light, certain medications, smoking, injury and other causes. Less light gets transmitted to the retina, and this commonly causes complaints of poor night vision.
Diabetic Retinopathy — Damage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night. Particularly if laser PRP is done to tear the retina to avoid further diabetes damage, night vision becomes more difficult.
Glaucoma — This group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma reduces peripheral vision which also results in problems with night vision.
Myopia — Also called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry. Pupils get larger in the dark, reducing depth of field and increasing blur and a starburst effect around lights at night.
Keratoconus — An irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) — A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.
Usher Syndrome — This genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.
Symptoms of Nyctalopia
Since night blindness may be a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Your eye doctor can assess for these conditions in a routine eye exam.
Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:
- Reduced contrast sensitivity
- Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
- Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
- Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
- Excessive squinting at night
- Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones
Treatments for Night Blindness
Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A rich Eyefoods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery.
If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision.
While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness.
If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact Foresight Eyecare in Country Hills, Calgary to schedule your appointment today.