Night blindness (nyctalopia) is a type of vision impairment. This condition affects people who experience poor vision at night or in dimly lit environments. When experiencing night blindness, you usually have difficulty driving in the darkness, which can be very dangerous. Certain types of night blindness are treatable, while others aren’t.
The problem is centred in your retina’s rod cells. Rod cells function as photoreceptors that convert light rays into electrical signals, creating what your brain interprets as images. Rod cells specialise in movement and adaptation to darkness/light, and when your rod cells suffer damage, that’s when night blindness can set in. Damage to rod cells comes in many forms, as night blindness itself is a symptom of several common vision problems rather than a condition in and of itself. Certain eye conditions can cause night blindness, including nearsightedness, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, and Usher syndrome.
When driving, if the intermittent brightness of headlights on the road affects your vision, it’s a telltale sign that you have night blindness. Difficulty seeing in the dark is also a clear indicator of the condition.
Your eye doctor will examine your eyes to diagnose night blindness and will inquire about your medical history. You could be asked to give a blood sample, as blood testing measures your glucose and vitamin A levels. The good news is that night blindness is treatable if caused by nearsightedness, cataracts, or a vitamin A deficiency.
You can’t prevent night blindness if it results from congenital disabilities or genetic conditions. You can, however, monitor your blood sugar levels and eat a balanced diet to decrease the likelihood of developing night blindness. Select foods that contain high levels of vitamin A to reduce your risk of night blindness. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals should be integrated into your eating plan, as it may help prevent cataracts.
Opt for sunglasses to help reduce the glare when you’re in a brightly lit environment, which can ease the transition into a dimly lit area. Avoid driving at night until the cause of your night blindness is determined through eye tests and, if possible, treated. If you have night blindness, please take precautions to keep yourself and others safe.
An eye doctor is the only person who’s qualified to tell you which surgical procedure to undergo. If your vision is giving you problems, visit an eye clinic to determine the problem and get help with a solution.
About Dr. Sachin Bawa
Sachin Bawa is a founder of Dr. Sachin Bawa Cataract and Vision Clinic. He is a qualified ophthalmic surgeon for more than 9 years. He holds a medical degree from the University of Witswatersrand which he completed in 2004.