Night Blindness

(Nyctanopia; Nyctalopia; Day Sight; Nocturnal Amblyopia)

Definition

Night blindness is difficulty seeing in the dark or in low light. One of the most common issues with night blindness is difficulty driving in the evening or at night.
The Retina of the Eye
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Causes

Night blindness is caused by disorders or conditions that affect the cells in the retina that are responsible for vision in dim light (cones). Examples include:
  • Common vision disorders, such as difficulty seeing or focusing on distant objects (nearsightedness)
  • Cataracts, which are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye
  • Some forms of retinal degeneration, such as retinitis pigmentosa
  • Posterior uveitis
  • Certain medications, such as those used to treat glaucoma
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Birth defects affecting the retina

Risk Factors

Age is the most common factor that contributes to night blindness. Many eye conditions develop as people get older. Other factors that may increase the chance of night blindness include:
  • Trouble adjusting from low levels of light to high levels of light
  • History of eye disorders, such as cataracts or glaucoma
  • Diabetes (contributes to eye disorders)
  • Family history of eye disorders
  • Genetic mutations that contribute to eye disorders
  • Not getting adequate amounts of vitamin A, which come from green leafy vegetables, eggs, and whole milk products.Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States, but still occurs in certain less developed countries.
  • Disorders that affect the ability of the body to absorb vitamin A:
    • Liver or pancreatic disorders
    • Intestinal conditions
    • Gastric bypass surgery for obesity

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