Having trouble seeing at night? Night blindness

Maneuvering a motor vehicle at night when your vision is impaired puts you at risk for an accident.

Nighttime has fallen, and you’re finding it difficult to see things as clearly as you do when it’s light out; this is called nyctalopia or night blindness. What’s even more dangerous is that you might be a sufferer of this condition, and still get behind the wheel of your vehicle to drive.

Maneuvering a motor vehicle at night when your vision is impaired puts you at risk for an accident because, reportedly, ninety percent of a driver’s reactions depend on vision. Clinicians state that folks age 50 and older are especially at a disadvantage for night blindness, as they need twice as much light to see than someone half their age.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), various eye conditions can cause night blindness, and they include:

  • Nearsightedness: the ability to see things up close but not at a distance
  • Glaucoma: damage to the optic nerve
  • Cataracts: cloudiness to the eye’s naturally clear lens
  • Diabetes: blood sugar levels that are not controlled
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: an eye disease that causes blindness
  • Vitamin A: having a deficient amount of this essential nutrient in your body
  • Keratoconus: a steeply curved cornea

Not sure if you suffer from night blindness? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you find yourself having trouble moving around your house at night, even with small night lights?
  • Is driving at night becoming more difficult?
  • Do you avoid going outside at night for fear of tripping?
  • Do you have trouble recognizing people’s faces in darkened settings?
  • Does it take your eyes a long time to adjust to light when coming in from the darkness?
  • Similarly, does it take you a long time to adjust to seeing anything in a darkened room?

If you answered yes to the questions above, you should schedule an appointment with your eye care professional to help identify, what’s causing your inability to see things clearly at night. The treatment for the condition will depend on the cause. Perhaps the fix for your dim light issue might be a prescription for glasses, or even a tweak in your current one. Maybe cataracts might be to blame for your night blindness and removing them could correct the problem.

Know that eyes need to get checked by a healthcare professional. The AAO recommends that for asymptomatic individuals or people without risk factors, who are 50 to 54-years-old, and who have had a comprehensive eye examination, the recommended interval for evaluations is 2 to 4 years. For those aged 55 to 64-years-old, the recommended interval for evaluations is 1 to 3 years. The 65 and older set, according to the AAO, should have their eyes examined every 1 to 2 years, even without symptoms.

For more information on night blindness contact the American Academy of Ophthalmology, www.aao.org.