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Have you ever had trouble seeing while driving at night? Do you strain to see what’s happening on the big screen in a movie theater? You may be suffering from night blindness, also known as nyctalopia. Night blindness, simply put, is the inability or reduced ability to see clearly at night and in low light situations. Even if you can see clearly in the dark, you may have nyctalopia if your eyes take extra long to adjust to the low light.

WHAT IS NIGHT BLINDNESS AND WHY DO I HAVE IT?

Nyctalopia itself is not a condition, but is the side effect of other diseases and conditions. Your eyes collect light through photoreceptors. The eyes’ two photoreceptors are cones and rods. The rods are primarily associated with regulating your vision in dimly lit settings. Certain conditions, diseases, and vitamin deficiencies may block or otherwise inhibit the rods from functioning properly, leading to the inability to see in the dark.

Some conditions that are known to cause light blindness include:

  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Liver diseases that impair your vitamin A regulation
  • Vitamin A deficiency and Zinc deficiency
  • Xerophthalmia

If you are entering a dark room from a brightly lit setting, you will have difficulty seeing. The sudden difficulty to see in the dim room is not an indicator of night blindness, but is a natural adjustment to the new setting. Your rods can take 15-30 minutes to fully adjust from a bright setting to a dark setting. If your eyes haven’t adjusted after that period of time, you may have nyctalopia.

HOW IS NIGHT BLINDNESS TREATED?

If you are experiencing difficulty seeing in dimly lit settings, you should visit your optometrist. Since nyctalopia is the side effect of another (likely more serious) condition, you will want professional help. Your eye doctor will be able to identify and start treatment for the root cause of your nyctalopia. Don’t shrug off night blindness as a minor factor of life that affects you more than others; it is an abnormal side effect to a more serious illness that needs to be addressed right away.

Treatments for conditions like macular degeneration or cataracts involve more invasive procedures, but will help prevent overall vision loss. Other treatments include vitamin A or Zinc supplements, and a diet of foods packed with nutrients that help improve your vision.

Do you constantly have trouble seeing at night or in dim rooms? Your night blindness may be the symptom of a more serious illness. Contact Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 or request your appointment online. We can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City.

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