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Night Blindness Symptoms and Causes: What You Should Know

Medically reviewed by Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO · Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center


Written by Amable Aguiluz · Updated Feb 17, 2022

Night Blindness Symptoms and Causes: What You Should Know

Otherwise known as Nyctalopia, night blindness refers to the eye’s difficulty to see images at night, or in dimly lit environments. This has no effect on one’s vision during day time. So what are night blindness symptoms and causes?

The Eyes of Someone with Night Blindness

The principal cells associated with this condition are rod cells, which are photoreceptor cells located in the retina. These take incoming visual stimuli in the form of photons, and transform them into electrical signals. These then travel through the optic nerve and to the brain.

Night blindness symptoms and causes point to the fact that Nyctalopia is a specific type of vision impairment, and is regarded by some medical professionals as a symptom of an underlying issue, instead of a condition in itself. 

It is observed that in dimly lit environments or at night time, your eyes constantly adjust to levels of light, depending on the surrounding environment and the object being focused on. In order to capture more light, your pupils dilate or enlarge. This light is then received and processed by the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. The retina is the home of the rod and cone cells, which are responsible for helping the eyes process colors and find clarity in the dark. When the rod cells are not functioning properly, as a result of an injury, condition, disease, or for some other reason, night blindness is the result. 

Night Blindness Symptoms and Causes

Aside from any problems relating to age-related eye changes that are bound to affect daytime and nighttime vision, there are several other conditions that may be known as causes for night blindness.

Cataracts

Cataracts sometimes cause a decrease in the ability of the eyes to process and visualize images at night. These are observed as the clouding of the lens of the eye, resulting in blurred and dim vision. The clouding effect on the eyes can also amplify the glares you see when looking at lights.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma may also cause Nyctalopia. It is a condition that has the tendency to cause damage to the optic nerve, as it is known as a group of eye conditions that injure the optic nerve associated with elevated intraocular pressure.

Like many eye conditions, if left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Vitamin A deficiency

Though cases like this are very rare, a deficiency in vitamin A, in particular, may lead to night blindness. This is due to the fact that vitamin A plays a vital role in promoting and maintaining eye health by way of producing rhodopsin, which is a pigment that is sensitive to light and is located in rod cells. This requires constraint replenishment.

Vitamin A deficiency may be caused by factors other than a lack of food. Diseases that particularly affect the liver may contribute to vitamin A deficiency. Malabsorption is an additional factor to consider if you find yourself lacking in vitamin A.

Treatment for Night Blindness

Treatment for night blindness symptoms and causes starts with getting in touch with your ophthalmologist. An eye exam helps determine the underlying causes of Nyctalopia. If there are suspicions of a vitamin A deficiency, a blood test is advised and can rule out this possibility.

Treatment for night blindness is heavily dependent on the cause, a majority of which are reversible when identified in a timely manner.

The most common solution for cataracts is surgeries. In the cases of vitamin A deficiencies, supplemental vitamin A may be advised. If a patient suffers from Nyctalopia due to glaucoma, alternative medication may be suggested.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, night blindness symptoms and causes are also responsible for helping your ophthalmologist determine the appropriate treatment for you. It must be made clear that measures you may apply on yourself or at home do not serve as primary methods of treatment, but as measures designed to mitigate risks.

Learn more about Vision Problems here. 

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.



Medically reviewed by

Victor Paulino, MD, DPBO

Ophthalmology · Makati Medical Center


Written by Amable Aguiluz · Updated Feb 17, 2022

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