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What Causes Night Blindness?

Whole milk is a good source of vitamin A.
Problems with the retina is usually the cause of night blindness.
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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2014
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Night blindness, also called nyctalopia or nyctanopia, is a medical condition that affects a person’s vision, particularly at night or in an area with little to no light. In addition to having difficulty seeing at night, a person with this condition may have difficulty seeing when moving from a brightly lit area to one that is dimly lit. As a result, these individuals generally experience difficulty driving at night or in the evening.

The underlying cause of night blindness is usually a problem with the retina. This is because the retina is made of rods and cones, and the rods help the eye see in areas with poor lighting. There are several medical conditions that can cause problems with the retina and lead to problems with vision in low light.

One common cause is cataracts, which are opaque or cloudy areas in the eye’s lens. This is more common in individuals over 50 years of age. In a younger person, night blindness can often be the first sign of retinitis pigmentosa. This eye disease, which has a genetic link, causes the retina to become damaged and progressively worsens over time.

A person with myopia, or nearsightedness, may also experience night blindness. With myopia, the person has difficulty focusing his or her eyes. As a result, far away objects appear blurry, and the person may also have difficulty adapting to darkness.

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Poor nutrition, specifically a deficiency in vitamin A, can also cause problems seeing at night. Vitamin A is responsible for keeping the skin and skeletal tissue healthy. In addition, it encourages good vision, particularly in areas that are not well lit. Vitamin A is found in whole milk, animal liver, and some foods that have been fortified. Supplements are also available to ensure a person receives enough to prevent night blindness.

Certain drugs can also cause night blindness, particularly those that block the body’s ability to absorb vitamin A. Some types of birth defects can also cause deformities in the retina and lead to this condition.

Depending on the underlying cause of the disorder, it can be treatable. Cataract removal, for example, can improve the condition. In some cases, prescription glasses can be beneficial as well.

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Discuss this Article

anon319867
Post 13

What can you do to prevent this and what are the symptoms?

candyquilt
Post 11

@anon22287-- For good eye sight, my mom has always told me to eat carrots. Carrots are rich in vitamin A.

Omega 3 is also very beneficial. It's found in fish oil capsules, salmon and walnuts.

ddljohn
Post 10

Almost all of the stray cats in my neighborhood have night blindness disease. They're so malnourished that their eyesight is very bad. They can barely see during the day and can't see at all at night.

I try to feed as many as possible with cat food that has vitamins. Several of them are doing better but they still struggle to get around. It's very sad.

serenesurface
Post 9

I thought that night blindness is something we all experience in the dark. You know when we move from a bright room to a dark one, it's not possible to see for a while until our eyes get used to it? I thought this was night blindness. I didn't realize that it's actually a more serious condition.

I suppose individuals who have night blindness never adapt to the darkness no matter how long they stay there. It must be very difficult.

What about night blindness and driving? Are these individuals allowed to drive at all? Do they ask about this at the DMV?

anon309673
Post 8

What are the signs of it?

anon173016
Post 7

Are there types of night blindness or it a genetic? At first, I did not feel the disease in my twenties, but I began to feel the difference between me and my friends during the night, and by thirty had dwindling field vision. My question is there a cure or treatment to stop the deterioration of my field vision?

anon53526
Post 5

I have night blindness by birth. I have four brothers and two sisters. Only me and my youngest brother have this disease.

I use prescription glasses which only help me to see clearly but in a brighter place whether it is day or night. I can move around without these glasses in the day but can't drive with these glasses at night.

Is my disease curable?

anon33617
Post 4

Cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt.

Liver is also a rich source of vitamin A. But, because it's such a rich source, if you already eat it every week, you might want to choose not to have it more often.

If you're pregnant, you should avoid eating liver because of the amount of vitamin A it contains.

hamimi
Post 3

Which cases of night blindness can not be treated yet?

anon22287
Post 2

What foods should i eat to prevent night blindness?

anon14101
Post 1

is "retinitis pigmentosa" a permanent disease? is there cure for this?

Moderator's reply: check out our article, what is retinitis pigmentosa?, for more information on this disease.

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