If you have noticed that you see worse at night (such as when driving) or have heard someone say that they have poor vision at night, you may have a vision abnormality called night blindness, also known as nyctalopia.
What is night blindness?
Night blindness is the difficulty of seeing clearly at night or in poorly lit environments. When a person suffers from night blindness, they do not actually suffer from a specific disease; night blindness is a symptom of the existence of more serious diseases, such as glaucoma.
What causes night blindness?
The real cause of difficulty seeing in low lighting conditions is only known for sure through diagnosis by a specialized ophthalmologist.
This type of blindness can be caused by serious diseases such as:
1 ➜ Retinitis pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa (or pigmentosa) is an abnormality in the normal functioning of the rod cells of the retina.
This abnormality causes these retinal cells to gradually lose their ability to respond to light.
People who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa usually suffer, gradually, night blindness and loss of visual acuity even during the day.
2 ➜ Myopia
Myopia is one of the most common visual defects that exist in the world.
This refractive defect is due to poor focusing of the eye, which results in the loss of the ability to see clearly from a distance.
Myopia can be corrected with glasses and prescription contact lenses, although high myopia (also known as high myopia) can cause night blindness in people who suffer from it.
3 ➜ Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a chronic disease, and according to the WHO, it is the second cause of blindness in the world.
This disease produces a loss of the nerve fibre layer of the retina, causing irreversible damage to the optic nerve and the field of vision.
It usually appears silently, reducing the visual field until you end up with tubular vision (as if you were seeing through a tube), creating night blindness and, if not corrected in time, chronic blindness.
That is why it is important to go for a review at least once a year.
4 ➜ Waterfalls
The leading cause of blindness worldwide is ocular cataracts. Patients suffering from cataracts have a complete or partial opacity in the lens.
This opacity prevents light from reaching the retina, dispersing within the eye and creating diffuse images, even creating night blindness in poorly lit environments.
5 ➜ Retinal detachment
This is one of the most serious pathologies that can occur within the eye. This occurs when a separation occurs between the retina and the pigment epithelium, which under normal conditions are united.
This separation causes vision abnormalities such as the appearance of floaters, flashes of light, night blindness and even permanent and total loss of vision.
6 ➜ Vitamin A deficiency
Lack of vitamin A can cause loss of vision at night.
To maintain good visual health, there are foods good for eyesight that help slow the progression of eye diseases.
In the case of night blindness, it is advisable to consume foods high in vitamin A (present in beta-carotene), such as oranges, carrots and vegetables in general.
7 ➜ Stationary congenital blindness (Oguchi disease)
It is a fortunately rare vision disorder; patients who suffer from this type of disease have a retinal abnormality that presents discolouration (yellow-greyish), which appears when there is direct light and disappears in low light conditions.
Patients with stationary congenital blindness suffer from non-progressive night blindness from an early age, with normal daytime vision.
Symptoms of night blindness
The symptoms of this type of anomaly are worse at night, especially in environments with poor lighting.
- Difficulty driving at night.
- Poor vision in movie theatres or establishments with dim lighting.
- Difficulty when walking and walking on poorly lit streets.
Risk factors when suffering from night blindness
There are various factors that can influence whether a person may develop nyctalopia.
In addition to the eye diseases described above, there are other risk factors that can favour the appearance of this pathology, such as:
- Family background.
- Advanced age.
- Arterial hypertension.
- Cardiovascular diseases.
- Bad nutrition.
How is nyctalopia or night blindness diagnosed?
It is important that nyctalopia be detected by a specialist ophthalmologist, in this way it will be possible to know the cause of night blindness.
For this it will be necessary:
- Perform an in-depth eye exam
- Vitamin A blood test
- Review medical history on medications and family history.
Treatment for night blindness
Once this pathology has been diagnosed by the JL Rohatgi Hospital specialist ophthalmologist, and the reason why it occurs, he or she will be able to recommend treatments such as:
- Take vitamin A supplements (in cases where there is a vitamin A deficiency)
- Eye surgery (for diseases such as cataracts).
- Use of glasses or contact lenses to correct refractory defects (such as myopia).
When to go to the specialist?
Night blindness is not a disease in itself, it is a symptom of other more serious diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa.
Some of these diseases can be corrected if they are detected in time, which is why it is important to go to a specialist ophthalmologist as soon as poor vision is detected at night, and also perform an eye examination at least once a year to prevent these pathologies from developing.