Night Blindness Symptoms

Written by d.l. hughes
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You step out of a brightly lit building into the dark and for a moment you cannot see anything. You wonder if this is normal or something serious. Knowing the symptoms of night blindness can help you decide.

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Definition

The term night blindness is deceptive. People with the condition experience poor vision at night or in dim light, but they are not completely blind, according to the National Institutes of Health. The medical term for the condition is nyctalopia.

Symptoms

Symptoms of night blindness include the inability to distinguish images in dim light, the inability to see for a few seconds after car headlights have passed at night, dry eyes and blurred vision. Another symptom is the inability to see stars in a clear night sky, according to the NIH.

Causes

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of night blindness in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Vitamin A deficiency also causes night blindness in adults, but more common causes for the disease include nearsightedness (myopia), side effects of glaucoma medications, damage to cells in the retina (retinitis pigmentosa) and cataracts.

Treatments

If your night blindness is caused by a vitamin A deficiency, you will be given a vitamin supplement. If caused by myopia, it can often be cured simply by getting fitted for new glasses. If it is caused by the side effects of your glaucoma treatment, your health care provider can change your medication. If your night blindness is caused by cataracts you can have lens replacement surgery to cure the condition. Research is under way, but currently there is no treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, according to the NIH. If you have this condition, you should protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses.

Misconceptions

A common misconception is that anyone who has trouble seeing in dim light has night blindness and that the condition is very common. True night blindness is not common, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. "Most people have more trouble seeing at night simply because it is harder to see when there is less light," according to the department. To enhance your vision at night, wear your glasses after dark, buy glasses that have an anti-reflective coating to cut the glare from headlights when driving and try using incandescent lights rather than fluorescent lights.

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