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Night Blindness Causes and Treatments

May 6, 2022
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

It’s night time, and you are merrily making your way home when you are temporarily blinded by the lights of a car driving in the opposite lane. You squint and try to re-adjust your eyes and focus on the road ahead when another car approaches from the opposite direction and the sudden blindness and panic repeat themselves. After a few of these nerve-wracking drives, you decide not to drive at night unless it is in your own neighborhood, where you know the streets very well. And your chances of a bustling nightlife grind to a halt because you have to rely on friends or buses to get around, even though you can drive perfectly in the daytime. 


Night blindness doesn’t mean you are actually blind at night–it just means that it is (much) harder for you to see when there is dim lighting or in the dark. 


Some conditions or diseases that cause night blindness are short-sightedness, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, diabetes, keratoconus, a deficiency of vitamin A, and glaucoma. If you are taking medications for glaucoma, these can also cause night blindness. 


What do you do if you suffer from night blindness? 


There is no one-size-fits-all solution; rather, treatment depends on what is causing your night blindness. If your night blindness is caused by myopia, treatment might mean that you need new glasses. But if the vision difficulty is caused by your glaucoma medication, switching medications might be the answer. 


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Cataracts - Symptoms

Cataracts - Symptoms

What if cataracts are affecting your vision at night? Age-related cataracts usually start forming when a person is approximately 40. They start off with only a small portion of your lens becoming cloudy and progress until they cover a much larger area. They are pretty common among older folks, with cataract surgery being one of the most common surgeries in America. Many times, cataracts develop slowly, and you don’t even realize that they are there until you start experiencing cloudy vision, night blindness, and other visual disturbances. Cataracts may also be caused by injury. The good news is that although you do need surgery to remove cataracts, your vision, both during the day and at night, will improve dramatically after the surgery. 


Unfortunately, if your night blindness is a result of retinitis pigmentosa (tunnel vision caused by dark pigment collecting in your retina), there is no known treatment. You’ll need to stick to driving only in the day and rely on other modes of transport at night. 


You can’t stop yourself from developing night blindness. What you can do is to have regular eye check ups to ensure that your glasses/lenses are the correct prescription. You can also add foods rich in Vitamin A to your diet. These include carrots, spinach, milk, eggs, and mangoes. 


In addition, wearing sunglasses, reducing your alcohol intake, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining lower glucose levels may help to prevent cataracts. 


Night blindness is not only scary and frustrating, it can also be downright dangerous. If you struggle to see at night, you need to see an optometrist and/or ophthalmologist to work out the best course of treatment. Not only will night driving become more pleasant, but it will also be much safer for those on the roads with you.


Written by Gila Isaacson

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