Night blindness also known as nyctalopia is a condition in which people experience poor vision in dimly lit places or at night. It is usually a symptom of another eye disease. There are many possible underlaying causes and treatments depending on what the cause is. Some types of nyctalopia are easily treatable while other are not.
Night Blindness is not a disease but rather a symptom of another disease, most commonly retina problems. The human eye constantly re-adjusts to the levels of light, so when there is an environment with low or no light at all, the pupils get bigger in size in order to allow more light to enter the eye. The light is received by the retina – the tissue, where all of the rod and cone cells are located. Cone cells are what allow you to see colour and the rod cells are what helps you see in the dark. When the rods are not working or malfunctioning for whatever reason, this leads to a person not being able to see properly or at all in the dark.
What are the Symptoms?
The main symptom of night blindness is having a hard time seeing in poorly lit environments. A person is most likely to experience it while driving at night or suddenly changing from a very light environment to a dimly lit one.
What are the Causes?
There are a few eye conditions, that are known to cause night blindness:
Myopia – nearsightedness
Diabetes – people that have high sugar levels are at a greater risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts.
Retinitis Pigmentosa – a condition which appears when there is dark pigment that collects in the retina and in turn creates tunnel vision
Usher Syndrome – a genetic condition which affects hearing and vision
Cataracts – people who are older in age have a bigger risk of developing cataracts. And they are more likely to have night blindness due to the disease.
Vitamin A Deficiency – vitamin a, also known as retinol, plays a huge role in transforming the nerve impulses into images in the retina. Individuals that suffer from pancreatic insufficiency or cystic fibrosis, have problems with absorbing fat properly and are more likely to develop a vitamin a deficiency, since vitamin a is fat-soluble. Which in turn makes them suffer a greater risk of developing nyctalopia.
What are the treatments?
If you notice that you are starting to experience night blindness you should immediately visit an eye doctor so that you can get proper eye examinations which will determine the exact diagnosis in order for your doctor to prescribe a correct treatment.
Nyctalopia that is a symptom of vitamin a deficiency, cataracts, shortsightedness is treatable. The treatment depends on the underlaying cause. It may be as easy as getting a new pair of glasses or contacts, medications or surgery when it comes to more severe diseases.
What are the ways to prevent it?
Night Blindness that is caused by genetic diseases such as Usher syndrome cannot really be prevented.
But in other cases, you can make sure to control your diet, make sure you eat a well balanced one, change your lifestyle and monitor your blood sugar in order to make yourself less likely to develop night blindness.
Make sure to eat foods that have plenty of vitamin a such as:
You can also make sure you include foods that contain a lot of antioxidants and minerals in your diet as they are known to help prevent cataracts.
Always make sure to take precautions and keep yourself healthy.
If you start noticing any symptoms or changes in your vision contact a professional immediately so you can get your eyes properly checked and examined!