Our usual expectation is to be “blinded by the light,” to experience momentary visual disturbance when we step into the bright sunlight, or out of it into a darker environment. There is another condition, though, in which the amount of light that is present can affect vision. For some people, the transition from daytime to night creates stress due to changes in visual clarity. Night blindness is a very real, and potentially dangerous, condition. Here, we want to discuss what may cause night blindness and what may be done to manage safety and quality of life.
Night blindness, or difficulty seeing in the dark, is technically a symptom. It may indicate:
- This treatable cause of night blindness develops as the lens of one, or both eyes become clouded by protein accumulation. The more protein matter that collects on the lens, the less light can get through to the retina. Difficulty driving or seeing at night may be a reason to have cataracts removed.
- Also treatable, nearsightedness is an error that makes it difficult to see farther away. An example of night blindness related to nearsightedness would be greater difficulty reading street signs after dark. To improve night vision, your eye doctor at Aloha Eye Clinic in Wailuku or Kihei may increase the strength of your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- Not all medications affect night vision. There are prescription drugs. However, that may alter pupil size or decrease the speed at which the eyes adapt to changes in light. If you have difficulty seeing at night, talk with your doctor about medications you are taking to determine if there is a connection. A change in medication could improve vision.
- Retinitis pigmentosa. This is a hereditary condition that may degrade night vision. There is no treatment for retinitis pigmentosa or the gradual weakening of the retina. Affected children and adults usually need to implement lifestyle habits that enable them to see more clearly in low-light situations.
Routine eye exams can be beneficial for individuals who are experience night-time driving difficulties, and even for those who are not. The consistent nature of annual eye exams enables us to stay on top of any changes to optimal vision. Contact us to schedule your next exam.