What Causes Night Blindness?

If you have night blindness, also called nyctalopia, you can’t see well at night or in dim light, like in a restaurant or movie theater. It is often linked to being unable to adjust quickly from a well-lit environment to one with less light. Some might think night blindness is a disease, but it’s actually a sign of a bigger problem with the eye involving the retina.

How Does the Eye Normally Respond to No Light or Low Light?

When there isn’t much light, or there isn’t any light at all, your pupils will increase so that more light can get into your eyes. This is called dilation. The retina, which is tissue in the back of your eye that contains all of the rod and cone cells, then picks up that light. Cone cells help you see colors. When it’s dark, rod cells help you see. When disease, injury, or condition makes these rods not work as well, it makes it difficult to see in low light or no light at all.

What Causes Night Blindness?

There are a variety of reasons you might have night blindness. A visit with your ophthalmologist can help narrow down the specific cause for you. They will give you a thorough eye exam and may order several specialized images and tests to find out what is causing your night blindness. Potential causes could be any of the following:

  • Nearsighted eyesight
  • Glaucoma medications
  • Cataracts
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Diabetes

Can Night Blindness be Treated?

How your night blindness is treated will depend on what’s causing it. You might need new glasses or to change your glaucoma medicine. If cataracts are to blame, you may need surgery.

The type of retinal disease you’re diagnosed with will determine the treatment you receive. This will require a retina specialist. You can’t treat night blindness at home. It is essential to get medical advice so that, if needed, the proper treatment can be given.

Can Night Blindness be Prevented?

You can’t change your genetics, but you can control how you live your life. Try the following to help prevent night blindness:

Eat foods with vitamin A: carrots, cantaloupes, butternut squash, spinach, milk, and eggs are all good suppliers of vitamin A.

Get regular eye exams: See an eye doctor often so that he or she can spot problems with your eyes as soon as possible.

Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses keep the sun from hurting your eyes. UV rays make you more likely to get cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Exercise: If you exercise, you may be less likely to get eye problems. It might lower blood sugar and eye pressure.