If you struggle to see at night, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans
have night vision problems. Poor night vision may be caused by any of
a number of factors. Sometimes, problems with night vision may be treatable.
Other times, the problems are more serious.
Often with age, our vision -- especially night vision -- begins to decline.
Sometimes, vision problems with age are due to
presbyopia. Night vision problems may be an early sign of cataracts, and can be corrected
with cataract surgery. Other night vision problems, including seeing halos
or glare around lights, or even night blindness, may be caused by a congenital
problem, vitamin deficiency or other disease
Common causes and treatments of night vision problems
Cataracts -- Cataracts may be the most common cause of poor night vision. In older adults,
many night vision problems are an early sign of cataracts. Cataracts are
a clouding of the lens of the eye. Decreased night vision is often a first
symptom of cataracts. Many cataract patients will see halos or a glare
around lights, especially at night. In this case, night vision may be
Vitamin A and/or zinc deficiency -- Vitamin A is essential for the health of the retina. Though a deficiency
in vitamin A is a rare cause of night vision problems or night blindness,
it is often seen in patients with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease,
cystic fibrosis or pancreatic insufficiency. Vitamin A is found in carrots
and yellow or green leafy vegetables. If you suffer from any of the mentioned
diseases, be sure you are getting plenty of vitamin A in your diet by
eating the right vegetables or taking a vitamin supplement.
Zinc is an important partner to vitamin A. The presence of zinc makes vitamin
A more effective in the body. Beef, poultry, beans and nuts are all sources
of zinc. If you don’t eat meat, you may want to consider taking
a zinc supplement.
Exposure to sunlight -- The sun’s rays can be extremely damaging to the eye. Prolonged exposure
to brightness from the sun can affect your night vision for up to 48 hours,
but isn’t permanent. Wearing sunglasses will help you maintain night
vision after time spent outside.
Diabetes -- Diabetic retinopathy gradually damages the retina of the eye. Poor night vision is an early
sigh of retinopathy. A long vision adjustment time after coming indoors
from being outside in bright light is another sign of retinopathy. Diabetic
retinopathy can be prevented when blood sugar levels are controlled with
medicine and diet. Laser eye surgery can also be performed to destroy
the tiny blood vessels formed by retinopathy that can impair vision.
LASIK surgery problems -- Though uncommon, especially with today’s advanced LASIK surgery procedures,
some people may experience impaired night vision following
LASIK laser eye surgery. The most common problems are seeing glares and halos around lights or
other objects at night. Some people may be more prone to developing night
vision problems after LASIK. Before undergoing LASIK surgery, discuss
your risk of night vision problems with your doctor.
Retinitis pigmentosa -- This is a rare genetic disorder affecting young people. An early symptom
of the disorder is night vision problems. This rare disorder causes progressive
degeneration of the retina.
If you experience blurry vision, see glares or halos around lights or simply
struggle to see at night, it’s important that you contact your eye
doctor for a comprehensive exam. Because poor night vision is often an
early symptom of a more serious problem, seeing your doctor immediately
may aid in early detection, giving you a better prognosis for recovery.
Do you have questions about night vision problems? Ask us in the comments
below or join our live Facebook chat withKey-Whitman doctors on the first Thursday of every month!
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