Did you know that an estimated 12 million people aged 40 or older have impaired vision in the US? Among them, 8 million have vision impairment caused by an uncorrected refractive error. Refractive errors, in turn, can cause night blindness, also known as nyctalopia. You might have this condition if you can’t see well at night or in low-light environments. That can make night driving dangerous, especially for older people. For instance, drivers in their 50s may already need twice as much light as those in their 30s. Fortunately, a Lexington eye care specialist can help if you have night blindness.
We’ll discuss nyctalopia in detail and how an eye doctor in Lexington, KY, can treat it, so read on.
Night Blindness and Its Top Causes
Night blindness is more common in the dark, but you may also experience its symptoms during the day. For example, you may have difficulty seeing upon entering a dim room if you’ve been outside in the sun. However, it can be worse at night since your eyes have to adapt to darkness and brightness and vice versa.
Fortunately, the most common night blindness causes, including myopia and cataracts, are treatable.
Also called nearsightedness, myopia affects almost one in four people worldwide. If you have this, you can see nearby objects clearly, but the farther they are, the blurrier they get. It’s a refractive error that results from the eye’s shape focusing images in front of the retina instead of on it.
Myopia tends to run in families, so if one of your parents has it, your odds of also developing it are higher. That likelihood further goes up if it affects both your mom and dad.
Behind your iris is the eye’s lens, a curved disk that, in normal conditions, is clear. Unfortunately, a cataract can cause that part to develop cloudiness.
Cataract symptoms tend to appear gradually, as the condition itself is slow-developing. Aside from night blindness, it can also force your eyes to need more light for tasks like reading. You may also experience blurry or dim vision and light sensitivity.
Vitamin A Deficiency
One of the primary symptoms of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. This nutrient, after all, is a component of a protein in the eye known as rhodopsin.
Rhodopsin is a pigment-containing protein that transforms light into an electrical signal. It’s in the eye’s retina, playing a crucial role in dim-light vision.
Therefore, a lack of vitamin A can reduce the amount of rhodopsin present in the eye. That can then result in nyctalopia.
How Lexington Eye Care Specialists Can Help
If you experience nyctalopia symptoms, visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Lexington, KY. One reason is that night blindness can be progressive and lead to a loss of the peripheral visual field. Besides, as mentioned above, it can be a sign of an underlying yet treatable eye condition.
Let’s look at how eye health experts can help with your night blindness.
The first thing that a Lexington eye care specialist will do is perform a comprehensive eye test. That includes taking your medical history and doing tests, such as a dilated eye exam. That can help the ophthalmologist or optometrist identify the cause of your nyctalopia.
Corrective Lenses for Myopia
Night blindness caused by nearsightedness is treatable with corrective lenses. That includes eyeglasses or contact lenses, which your eye care specialist can prescribe. Wearing them can even help improve your nearsighted vision during the day and night.
If you have severe nearsightedness, it might be best to undergo refractive surgery. Some of the most common types include LASIK and PRK, which utilize laser technology. They provide significant vision improvements, eliminating the need for corrective lenses.
You might need this surgery if severe cataracts are behind your night blindness. During this procedure, an ophthalmologist removes the clouded lens of the eye. The eye doctor then replaces it with an artificial lens.
Don’t worry, as cataract surgery is quite common and, in general, is very safe. Moreover, it’s an outpatient procedure, so you don’t need to stay in the hospital after.
If your eye care specialist suspects you have a vitamin A deficiency, you may undergo a blood test. That can help rule out or confirm if you lack this nutrient.
If you are deficient, your ophthalmologist or optometrist can recommend supplements. You may need more than just vitamin A, though, since the eyes need other nutrients, including vitamins B to E.
Is Night Blindness Preventable?
You can reduce your risks of night blindness by seeing your eye care specialist at least once a year for a check-up. That can help your ophthalmologist or optometrist catch eye conditions early. They can then correct or treat the problems before they lead to nyctalopia.
Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can also help. They can keep cataracts and deficiencies that cause night blindness at bay.
It’s also wise to see an endocrinologist if you are at risk of diabetes. One reason is that this disorder can raise your likelihood of developing cataracts. So, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels may help prevent cataracts and nyctalopia.
Please note that night blindness caused by genetic conditions isn’t treatable. That includes retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare disorder affecting 82,500 to 110,000 people in the US.
While RP doesn’t have a cure, doctors are trying out therapies to help manage it. Some examples are dietary supplementation and special glasses that help reduce glare.
Find Relief for Night Blindness Now
As you can see, night blindness can happen due to myopia, cataracts, or vitamin A deficiency. It can also be due to rare genetic disorders.
If you have nyctalopia, it’s best to see a Lexington eye care specialist ASAP. The sooner you do, the sooner you can learn about your treatment options.
Are you ready to visit a Lexington ophthalmologist or Versailles optometrist? If so, our specialists at the Kentucky Eye Institute can help.
Please feel free to call our Lexington or Versailles eye clinic today.