What is Night Blindness?
Night Blindness is a condition in which an individual finds it difficult to see objects at night or even at places where the lights are dim like a restaurant or a discotheque. In medical terminology, Night Blindness is termed as Nyctalopia. The overall quality of vision of an individual suffering Night Blindness is less and even in broad daylight the vision will be somewhat hazy. The severity of the condition is variable and differs from person to person. This article explains about the causes and signs of night blindness and its treatment.
What are the Signs of Night Blindness?
There is no presenting feature for Night Blindness to suggest that an individual is about to have this condition. The only thing that may termed as a symptom is that the individual will start finding it difficult to see objects clearly when the light is dim or during the evening hours. The individual will start finding it difficult to drive at night as he or she will not be able to see the oncoming traffic clearly. This gets worse if the weather is bad. It is normal for an individual to have problems seeing things after entering a dim lit room from broad daylight as is the case when one enters a movie theatre but as the eyes get accustomed to the light it becomes easier for the individual to see but in case of a person suffering from Night Blindness this will not be the case and he or she will still find it tough to see things.
Once you observe the above symptoms then it becomes important for you to contact an ophthalmologist to get an eye checkup. Once Night Blindness is confirmed then the physician will formulate a treatment plan to get rid of this condition.
What Causes Night Blindness and What is its Treatment?
Below mentioned are some of the common conditions that cause Night Blindness and the possible treatments for those conditions.
Night Blindness Caused Due to Cataract: Cataract is a normal process of aging in which there are calcium deposits in the eye which hampers vision. It can be observed by seeing a film over the lens impairing the vision. This is common in the elderly population, although Cataract is nowadays seen in younger people as well.
Treatment for Night Blindness Caused Due to Cataract: Taking preventive steps is better than going in for a treatment but since Cataract is something that comes with age taking foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can delay this condition for as long as possible. Coming to the treatment of Cataract, this is done by surgery. With all the advancements made by medical science cataract surgeries have become much easier and the patient can be discharged the same day of the procedure. The procedure is called phacoemulsification where the cataract is removed and new lens is implanted for correct vision and thus get rid of Night Blindness.
Nearsightedness as a Cause for Night Blindness: People who are by nearsightedness find it tough to see objects that are far away from them. This becomes more severe at night and may cause Night Blindness.
Treatment of Night Blindness Caused Due to Nearsightedness: Corrective lenses are the solution for this problem. Even though this may not be a permanent solution for nearsightedness but it will help get rid of Night Blindness as least to a certain extent. Also, improving diet habits will help improving vision and cure Night Blindness to some extent.
Night Blindness Caused Due to Retinitis Pigmentosa: This is a genetic condition and is caused due to dark pigmentation that collects on the retina resulting in the patient having what is termed as tunnel vision.
Treatment: Since it is a genetic condition there is potentially no treatment for this condition and people with Night Blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa need to avoid night-time driving and stay away from going outdoors at night to prevent any accidents or injuries.
Night Blindness Caused Due to Nutritional Deficiency: People who do not have a history of any vision problems and there is no plausible explanation for their Night Blindness may have a nutritional deficiency, especially Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important factor in the normal functioning of the eye. It helps in transforming nerve impulse into images in the retina. Deficiency of Vitamin A results in malfunction of the nerve impulses being transformed into images in the retina resulting in distorted vision and Night Blindness. Night Blindness is also seen to occur in people with pancreatic disorders as weak pancreas fail to absorb adequate vitamin A and he body gets vitamin A deficiency resulting in Night Blindness.
Treatment of Night Blindness Caused Due to Nutritional Deficiency: If vitamin A deficiency is a cause for the Night Blindness then eating food rich in vitamin A is the way to go. Vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A are Cantaloupes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkins, Butternut Squash, Mangoes, Spinach, Collard Greens, Milk, eggs, to list a few of them. Taking all these will go a long way in getting rid of Night Blindness.
Diabetes as a Cause for Night Blindness: Diabetic patients are prone to have problems with the eyes. Consistently high sugar levels result in people developing conditions like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and other conditions which affect the vision of the patient significantly and cause Night Blindness.
Treatment for Night Blindness Caused Due to Diabetes: Adequate blood sugar control is the route to go. Eat a healthy diet. Follow the instructions of your physician carefully and check blood sugar regularly to see if they are high. These measures may not be enough but will keep your vision healthy and for as long as possible prevent Night Blindness.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2020). What Is Cataract? https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-cataract
- National Eye Institute. (2020). Retinitis Pigmentosa. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/retinitis-pigmentosa
- American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Eye Complications. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/eye-complications
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Diabetic Retinopathy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371611