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What Causes Night Blindness?

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   5 min     

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Overview

Night blindness is also known as nyctalopia and it is a type of vision impairment. People may experience poor vision at night or in dimly lit environments. 

It is where the eye is unable to adjust to dim light conditions, such as at night. Night blindness is not a condition but is the result of an existing eye disorder. 

When the lights are dim, the eye must adapt to the condition, but instead, it fails to do so. Although night blindness severely affects a person's ability to see at night or in dim light, it does not make the person completely blind. It may raise problems in understanding the road while driving at night. It may also take average time than usual to adapt when going from bright to a dark place. 

Symptoms of Night blindness

Night blindness is a product of an underlying eye condition that impairs your ability to see things while in dim or dark light.

For example, night blindness refrains a person from looking at the stars at night, or obstacles in a dark room.

To identify a person with night blindness, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that people consider the following questions for evaluation 

  • Is moving around the house in the dim light a challenge?

  • Is driving at night increasingly tricky?

  • Is it tricky to recognize faces in dim light?

  • Does it take an awfully long time to adapt to lightroom after being in the dark?

  • Does it take an unimaginably long time to see in a darkened room after being in the light?

Other evident symptoms experienced by people suffering from night blindness are mentioned below. the nature of these symptoms depends on the underlying eye condition but mainly include:

  • Headaches

  • Nausea 

  • Vomiting

  • Eye pain

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Cloudy or blurry vision

  • Difficulty seeing things in the distance.

Causes of Night Blindness

  • Nearsightedness or blurred vision when looking at faraway objects

  • Cataracts, or clouding of the eye’s lens

  • Retinitis pigmentosa, which occurs when dark pigment collects in your retina and creates tunnel vision

  • Usher syndrome, which is a genetic condition that affects both hearing and vision

  • Vitamin A deficiency

  • Keratoconus

  • Sun Exposure

Old adults have a greater risk of developing cataracts.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions where the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain is damaged, resulting in increased pressure in the eye. This may impair a person's vision, which can be permanent.

Cataracts

Cataracts are experienced by an individual when the lens of their eye becomes cloudy. This generally happens when proteins in the lens break down, mainly due to ageing. Clouding of the lens can impair your vision, including in dim and dark lighting.

Nearsightedness

widely known as myopia is a condition where people are unable to see objects in the distance accurately. The light entering the eye isn't focused accurately, and distant objects look blurred. This occurs when the eye has grown too long, and the eye is no longer able to focus the light precisely. 

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A also called retinol, is an essential nutrient for vision. It makes up a protein that absorbs the light in the retina and supports the functioning of the eye. Deficiencies of vitamin A or retinol can have a severe impact on vision.

Retinitis pigmentosa

This is known as a group of eye conditions that damage the retina. It is a genetic disorder that causes a person difficulty seeing in low or dark light. 

Read More- Foods that are Good For Eyes

Treatment of Night Blindness

Treatment for night blindness varies depending upon the cause of the condition. Treatment usually includes incorporation os specific type of glasses or contact lenses, which can help support the correct vision in n individual. Wearing sunglasses can also protect the eye from harmful ultraviolet light which can further aggravate the condition of eye damage. 

When the cause of night blindness is the deficiency of Vitamin A, treatment regimen includes adding more vitamin A to the diet. 

A doctor will take a detailed medical history and examine your eyes to diagnose night blindness.

Blood testing can measure your vitamin A and glucose levels. No one can cure night blindness it is the result of birth defects or genetic conditions. The only way to prevent the condition is by eating foods rich in antioxidants vitamins and minerals, which may help prevent cataracts. 

Eat food that contains high levels of vitamin A to reduce the risk of night blindness. Orange-color foods are excellent sources of vitamin A, including:

  • Cantaloupes

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Carrots

  • Pumpkins

  • Butternut squash

  • Mangoes

  • Eggs

  • Fortified cereals

  • Fortified milk

  • Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits

  • Cod liver oil

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Eye Surgery may be necessary in more worse cases when the condition interferes with your regular life. 

For example, LASIK is a type of surgery which changes the shape of the cornea to improve vision. Other types of surgery aim to remove a cataract from the eye or to decrease, thereby releasing the pressure in the eye in cases of glaucoma. 

In a few cases, night blindness cannot be treated, not even by LASIK. Retinitis pigmentosa has no effective treatments currently, albeit specific eye devices and therapies may improve the quality of life and symptoms of the condition.

Precautions should be taken to lower some of the risks that night blindness may cause. This includes not driving at night to avoid any road accidents,  or avoid having to move around in the dark so that you won't trip and fall.

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Tags:  eye care,Night Blindness

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