According to Medicover Hospitals, “Night blindness, also known as nyctalopia, is a condition that means your eyes cannot adjust to low light conditions. Night blindness usually occurs as a result of problems with your rod cells, although there are actually multiple causes of night blindness.”
dr Tushar Grover, Medical Director of the Vision Eye Center in New Delhi explains: “While night blindness or nyctalopia is a condition that sounds like a night time vision problem, the truth is that it can even impair daytime vision. In fact, even during the day, when staying in poorly lit indoor spaces or where there is low light, one can experience this problem in the eye. In fact, night blindness involves a poor adaptation of the eye when moving from a well-lit environment to a poorly or dimly lit place.”
He explained: “Light typically travels through the cornea, anterior chamber, pupil, lens and posterior chamber before striking the retina. When people with night blindness enter an area with little light, the rod cells in the retina (which serve as photoreceptors and are responsible for converting light rays into electrical signals that create what the brain interprets as images) don’t work properly because of an abnormality. As a result, the person has trouble seeing in the less-lit areas.”
Instead of a medical condition in and of itself, Dr. Tushar Night blindness as a symptom of an underlying eye condition one may have. However, symptoms generally include:
1. Not being able to see clearly and comfortably in the dark
2. It takes an unusually long time to see clearly after moving from a lit area to a less lit one
3. Having trouble driving at night
4. Difficulty recognizing faces in low light
5. Cloudy vision
6. Problem seeing distant objects
7. Reduced contrast sensitivity
9. Eye pain
10. Nausea and vomiting
according to dr Tushar’s night blindness can be attributed to a variety of eye conditions including myopia, cataracts, vitamin A deficiency, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes and Usher syndrome. He shared: “While myopia makes it difficult to see far into the distance, it is the clouding of the lens that leads to cataracts. Due to vitamin A deficiency, there is a lack of pigments required for the proper functioning of photoreceptor cells, while glaucoma is caused by abnormal pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve, retinitis pigmentosa involves retinal damage due to genetic defects, and diabetes too diabetic Retinopathy can result and the resulting damage to blood vessels, leading to poor vision in dim light and at night. Usher Syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa.”
dr Tushar listed some preventative tips to follow to avoid the risk of night blindness. These include:
1. One should consume foods rich in vitamin A. This can include carrots, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, milk, eggs, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like mackerel and salmon.
2. Maintain a healthy exercise and fitness program that keeps both eye pressure and blood sugar levels under control.
3. Monitor for and treat chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
4. Get regular check-ups from an ophthalmologist. If you have the slightest sign of night blindness, you should get checked out. Lifestyle adjustments should also be made in response to these symptoms. For example, in the case of certain diseases with severe night vision impairment, driving at night should be avoided.
dr Tushar claimed that treatment would depend on the condition causing night blindness and suggested that myopia can be treated with simple prescription glasses, while cataracts can be treated with artificial lenses or surgery. Regarding vitamin A deficiency, he said that apart from supplements, foods rich in this nutrient can alleviate night blindness, while glaucoma is treated with eye drops and medication, and may also require surgery in certain cases.
He revealed: “For retinitis pigmentosa, treatments include corrective lenses, UV sunglasses, and gene and stem cell therapies. Diabetes requires good control of blood sugar levels, and when a person’s condition progresses to diabetic retinopathy, injections and medications, laser surgery and vitrectomy are different treatments.”
dr Tushar highlighted genetic conditions as almost untreatable and felt that those who suffer from night blindness due to genetic diseases may have to live with it. “However, there are eye devices and therapies that can help. Even people with untreatable medical conditions can benefit significantly from ‘Low Vision Aids’, which use special devices and gadgets to vastly improve their quality of life,” he suggested.
In summary, if you suffer from night blindness, keep in mind that you would have trouble seeing clearly even in less lit areas during the day. So it’s not just a problem at night.