What are the Common Causes and Symptoms of Night Blindness

Night blindness (nyctalopia) is a type of vision impairment that causes people to experience poor vision at night or in dimly lit environments. While the term “night blindness” might lead you to believe that you can’t see anything in a dark environment, this isn’t exactly the case. Instead, you might just have more difficulty seeing in the dark.

Night blindness is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem. With a proper diagnosis, your eye doctor can take steps to correct the problem and help you see better at night.

What are the Symptoms of Night Blindness?

The main symptom of night blindness is not being able to see well in the dark. It’s most common to experience night blindness when transitioning from a bright environment to a dark environment, as well as when driving due to the brightness of headlights and streetlights.

Aside from not being able to see well at night or in dim environments, here are a few other symptoms to pay attention to:

  • Blurry vision when driving at night
  • Excessive squinting at night
  • Difficulty adjusting from bright areas to dim areas
  • Inability to see pedestrians walking at night
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity

What Causes Night Blindness?

Night blindness has many possible causes, so it’s important to discuss these with your ophthalmologist. It’s possible that you have one or more things going on. The most common causes of night blindness are:

  • Cataracts. As cataracts form, less light can enter the eye. This means you need more light to see, making night driving more difficult.
  • Myopia. Some people with myopia may experience blurred vision at night due to not being able to focus their eyes properly.
  • Glaucoma. People who have glaucoma have trouble seeing in the dark, even before the disease progresses. It’s recommended to limit night driving.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa. One of the first symptoms of RP is loss of night vision, as well difficulty moving around in the dark and adjusting to dim light. RP also causes side vision loss.
  • Vitamin A deficiency. For some people, night blindness can be an early sign of a Vitamin A deficiency. To correct this issue, you can supplement with beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A.
  • Usher syndrome. Usher syndrome involves both hearing and vision loss. Usually starting before age 10, children begin having difficult seeing at night.

Because there are many underlying conditions that can cause night blindness, it’s important to consult with an eye specialist. Once your eye doctor can diagnose the problem, they can take the appropriate steps to help you see better at night. To schedule an appointment with a retina specialist, contact Empire Retina Consultants today.