Do you have trouble seeing at night, but see clearly during the day? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans have problems with night vision! This condition can often be treatable, but it’s best to catch it early through regular visits to your eye doctor.

What causes this?
A wide range of conditions could affect your ability to see at night. From aging eyes to health conditions, here are some of the most common causes to that troublesome night vision:

  • Distance prescription. Having a very small amount of uncorrected refractive error—meaning a small distance prescription—can throw off night vision. Seeing your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam can help determine if you have a small refractive error. And if it’s determined to be the cause of your night vision, it can usually be fixed with a prescription correction.
  • Lack of vitamin A. Found in carrots and leafy vegetables, this essential nutrient keeps the retina—the back of your eye where images are focused—healthy. Most Americans get enough vitamin A in their diets, but if you have a health issue that makes it hard for you to absorb nutrients, night vision problems may exist. Check out the National Institute of Health for recommended daily values for your age group.
  • Not enough zinc. Without the proper amount of zinc, vitamin A may not be absorbed as well as it should be. The result may lead to symptoms of night blindness. The National Institute of Health recommends adults 19 years and older get 8-11mg of zinc each day. Beef, poultry, beans, and nuts are rich sources of zinc.
  • Too much sunlight exposure. If you think your night vision is worse after time spent outdoors, you’re probably right. Sustained bright sunlight can worsen night vision for up to two days. Always wear your sunglasses to avoid this.
  • Cataracts. Your eye’s lens is right behind the pupil. As you age, cells grow and die inside it. These cells build up and cause debris in your eyes, leading to cataracts. They don’t hurt, but they do get worse and slowly cloud your lens. The first symptom is often worse night vision. Because cataracts distort the light that comes into your eyes, you may see halos around lights mostly at night. Blurry vision is also common.
  • Diabetes. You may be more likely to have night vision problems if you also have this chronic condition. Years of high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your eyes, which could lead to a condition called retinopathy. If you have trouble seeing in low light, either indoors or outside, talk to your VSP doctor.

How is it diagnosed?
A simple exam and conversation with your VSP eye doctor can help determine the cause of your night blindness. Your doctor may dilate your eyes and perform other tests to look for signs of eye strain.

Is there anything else I can do?
Start by taking note on what symptoms you’re experiencing. Do you see halos on lights? Do you notice clouds around certain objects? Are your eyes dry or strained? Next take steps to make sure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need—like vitamin A and zinc.

It’s important to talk to your eye doctor about your symptoms—he or she may recommend dietary improvements or simply a new pair of glasses to use at night. While some night vision issues can be corrected with a simple pair of glasses, there are few occasions when it could mean something else. Based on your diagnosis, your VSP eye doctor can recommend the best course of treatment.

 

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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Dr. Matt Alpert is the owner and lead optometrist at Alpert Vision Care in Woodland Hills, CA.