Night Blindness and Other Vision Problems: Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions

October 28th, 2021

Night blindness and other nighttime vision problems affect millions of Americans.

As lighting conditions change, your eyes are constantly adjusted. When it gets darker, your pupils grow larger, or dilate, to let more light into the eye. This light is then detected by the retina, the tissue in the back of your eye that houses cone cells (these allow you to see color) and rod cells (these allow you to see in the dark). If an underlying condition or injury affects your rod cells, this can cause problems with your night vision.

Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well in the dark and can be a symptom of a variety of underlying issues. Keep reading to learn about the signs and potential causes of night blindness and what you can do about it.

Common Night Vision Problems

What does night blindness look like? Night vision problems come with a variety of symptoms, all of which can make it hard to see as it gets dark. Some of the most common night vision problems include difficulty seeing objects that are far away, blurred vision, glare or halos around lights, and difficulty driving at night.

When your eyes don’t adjust to the dark, it can lead to an increased risk of falling at night and can make it harder to drive safely. It’s important to exercise caution and talk about your symptoms with your doctor.

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Potential Causes of Poor Night Vision

Myopia – Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common cause of poor nighttime vision. Even a slight impairment in your ability to clearly see from a distance can throw off your night vision. This issue can most likely be helped with prescription correction lenses from your doctor after a comprehensive eye exam.

Cataracts – As you age, cells grow and die in your eye’s lens. This can cause a buildup of debris and lead to cataracts. Although they’re not painful, cataracts slowly cloud your lens, leading to symptoms such as blurry night vision, difficulty seeing at night, and halos around lights at night.

Macular degeneration – Macular degeneration affects your retina as you age. This can cause distortion and blind spots in both your nighttime and daytime vision. Talk to your doctor to find out about supplements and treatments that can help with the progression of macular degeneration.

Lack of vitamin A – A deficiency in vitamin A can lead to poor night vision. Vitamin A is found in leafy vegetables and carrots and is key to keeping your retina healthy. Health problems that inhibit your ability to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or gastric bypass, could also contribute to lack of vitamin A.

Lack of zinc – Zinc is important in helping your body absorb vitamin A. Therefore, even if you’re getting enough vitamin A, not having enough zinc could lead to night vision problems. Beef, poultry, nuts, and beans are all rich in zinc. In addition, eye vitamin supplements can help give you the nutrients your eyes need.

Prolonged sunlight exposure – Looking into the sun not only hurts your eyes for a moment, but also can cause long-term night vision eye problems. Prolonged sunlight exposure increases the likelihood of developing eye issues, including trouble seeing at night. Remember to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Diabetes – Diabetes also increases risk for vision problems at night. High blood sugar can harm the blood vessels and nerves in your eyes and cause a condition called retinopathy, a symptom of which is difficulty seeing in low light.

Multiple other diseases or conditions can cause night blindness or blurry vision at night. If you feel as though your vision is worse at night, visit your doctor and discuss your symptoms to determine the factors behind your vision problems.

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There are a variety of causes of night blindness. If you’ve noticed that you’re having trouble seeing at night, it’s key to talk to your doctor to find out what may be causing your blurry night vision.

It’s also important to think ahead to keep your eyes healthy. Taking supplements that promote eye health, wearing sunglasses in bright settings, taking frequent night blindness tests, and setting up routine eye exams are important steps to ensure that you’re taking the best possible care of your eyes.

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