Driving at night can be challenging. Road signs can be hard to read, and familiar landmarks are not clearly visible. Night driving especially is a problem for people suffering from nyctalopia, known as night blindness. Here are three things to know about this condition:
1. Symptoms – There are several common signs of night blindness:
- Eyes adjust slowly to light changes, such as when entering a dark room from the sunny outdoors.
- Cannot see stars in the sky.
- Vision loss due to bright headlights and streetlights at night. Doctors recommend that people with night blindness not drive after dusk, and walk with another person when navigating streets and sidewalks at night.
2. Causes – Night blindness develops from a disorder of cells in the retina caused by:
- Blurred vision
- Cataracts or lens clouding
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Prescription drugs
- Retinitis pigmentosa – a collection of dark pigment cells in the retina causing tunnel vision
- Usher syndrome – a genetic condition that can affect both vision and hearing
3. Treatment – See your eye doctor every year, so vision changes can be tracked and corrected. Insurance can help cover the cost, especially since annual eye exams usually are covered. Find out more about the value of vision insurance.
During the exam, the eye doctor will look for vision changes and any signs of disease. If night blindness is diagnosed, the doctor will determine whether it can be treated with:
- Prescription eyewear
- Cataract surgery
- Supplements or dietary changes to increase vitamin A. Foods rich in vitamin A include spinach, eggs, butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, milk, and cantaloupe.
Night blindness is not treatable if it’s caused by a birth defect or retinitis pigmentosa.
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