As the name suggests, Night Blindness is a condition wherein the person who is afflicted is not able to see things in the dark or in dim lighting. During the day, when there is enough light, the person is able to see everything clearly, but during the night or in a dimly lit atmosphere, the vision is affected or completely lost. Harsh lights can also cause temporary loss of vision. The medical term for the condition is Nyctalopia.
The Retina of the eye plays a very important role in vision. The retina is made up of many cells, which are known as rod cells and cone cells. The rod cells are on the outer part of the retina through which we can see illuminated objects in the night.
Any disorder in the rod cells may cause Night Blindness. Deficiency of vitamin A may lead to dryness of rod cells thus impairing vision. The condition may be genetic or due to deficiency of vitamin A or some other reason.
The major cause of Night Blindness in young children and adults alike is vitamin A Deficiency, especially in underdeveloped countries which have problems of malnutrition.
The others risk factors are:
Cataract: Cataract may lead to vision difficulties in adults as well as children.
Diabetes: People with high blood sugar risk getting Night Blindness.
Zinc: Deficiency of zinc along with vitamin A results in poor vision.
Lasik Surgery: People who have undergone Lasik may sometimes experience glares and halos around objects during daytime as well and more so at night.
Retinitis Pigmentosa: Is an uncommon genetic disorder which affects people before the age of 30.
Sunlight and harsh lights: Exposure to sunlight and harsh lights for long periods may affect vision.
Stress, injury, fear of darkness, glaucoma, untreated myopia (near sightedness), are some of the other causes.
The signs and symptoms may include:
Difficulty in walking, or indulging in any activity, at night or in dim lighting
Difficulty in adjusting to harsh lights at all times
Tiredness in the eyes, dry eyes, blurred vision, glares and seeing double objects
Difficulty in driving at night
Requirement of extra lights
Frequently stumbling from the stairs and falling on the pavements in dim lighting
The Ophthalmologist or the Eye Specialist will test your eyes with the help of eye drops which dilate the pupils. The dilated eye will help in better examination.
Then the doctor may suggest other tests to check for blood sugar or any other deficiency or condition responsible for the vision impairment. The presence of the signs and symptoms will determine the condition of Night Blindness.
Night Blindness can be treated. The condition of Night Blindness is due to some other underlying condition. The doctor will test for the causative condition and treat you accordingly. With effective diagnosis and timely treatment the condition of Night Blindness can effectively be controlled.
A diet full of vitamin A, coupled with zinc helps maintain healthy vision. Foods like carrot, Spinach, beans, mango, papaya, and poultry products are ideal, and can help prevent Night Blindness.
Avoid taking any over the counter medication without the advice of your doctor.