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Vision - night blindness

Nyctanopia; Nyctalopia; Night blindness

Night blindness is poor vision at night or in dim light.

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External and internal eye anatomy

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Considerations

Night blindness may cause problems with driving at night. People with night blindness often have trouble seeing stars on a clear night or walking through a dark room, such as a movie theater.

These problems are often worse just after a person is in a brightly lit environment. Milder cases may just have a harder time adapting to darkness.

Causes

The causes of night blindness fall into 2 categories: treatable and nontreatable.

Treatable causes:

Nontreatable causes:

Home Care

Take safety measures to prevent accidents in areas of low light. Avoid driving a car at night, unless you get your eye doctor's approval.

Vitamin A supplements may be helpful if you have a vitamin A deficiency. Ask your health care provider how much you should take, because it is possible to take too much.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

It is important to have a complete eye exam to determine the cause, which may be treatable. Call your eye doctor if symptoms of night blindness persist or significantly affect your life.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will examine you and your eyes. The goal of the medical exam is to determine if the problem can be corrected (for example, with new glasses or cataract removal), or if the problem is due to something that is not treatable.

The provider may ask you questions, including:

The eye exam will include:

Other tests may be done:

References

Cao D. Color vision and night vision. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SVR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 12.

Cukras CA, Zein WM, Caruso RC, Sieving PA. Progressive and "stationary" inherited retinal degenerations. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.14.

Duncan JL, Pierce EA, Laster AM, et al. Inherited retinal degenerations: current landscape and knowledge gaps. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2018;7(4):6. PMID: 30034950 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30034950/.

Thurtell MJ, Tomsak RL. Visual loss. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 16.

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Review Date: 8/18/2020  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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