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Fast Facts About Night Blindness

The difficulty or inability to see in relatively low light is termed as night blindness or nyctalopia. Contrast vision may be reduced and the eyes take more time to adjust from brightly light to low lighting. Nyctalopia may be present from birth, or may be caused due to injury to the eye, cataracts or deficiency of certain nutrients such as Vitamin A.
  • Older people are more likely to have cataracts and thus night blindness.
  • The main symptoms are dryness in the eyes and blurred vision.
  • Nyctalopia is more common among men than women.
  • Certain disorders can affect the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin A such as intestinal conditions, liver disorders and surgery on the pancreas or liver.
  • Early stages of night blindness especially in children may be corrected through Vitamin A supplementation.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is not very common in America, but still occurs in some developing countries.

Dietary Management For Night Blindness And Diet For Healthy Eyes

Vitamins A, C and E are potent antioxidants which slow down age related macular degeneration and help maintain healthy tissues and cells in the eyes. Vitamins C and E may also inhibit the development or progression of cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants called carotenoids, which help in neutralizing free radicals and maintaining eye health.

Sources of Vitamin A: Yellow-orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, mango, papaya, pumpkin, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, eggs, milk and milk products. Vitamin A can be stored in your body, so you can opt for your favorite seasonal foods!

Sources of Vitamin C: Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruit, peppers, tomatoes, kiwis, gooseberries, strawberries and Brussels sprouts.

Sources of Vitamin E: Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, fortified oils, seeds, eggs, milk and dairy.

Sources of Lutein: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and chard, yellow peppers, mango and bilberries.

Sources of Zeaxanthin: Oranges, tangerines, eggs, spinach, dark green lettuce, corn, broccoli and orange sweet peppers.

For maximizing the benefits of the above vegetables, it is best to have then lightly cooked rather than raw. Cooking or steaming breaks down the cells, making it simpler for the body to absorb these nutrients from the foods.

Aim to eat at least 2 to 4 servings or more of these foods every day to ensure that you are getting enough of these 5 powerful nutrients.


Night blindness or nyctalopia is the inability to see clearly in dim light or during the night. Night blindness symptoms include a fall in the ability to either see clearly or an inability to see at all when there is relatively low light. The eyes of people suffering from night blindness take a little more time to adjust from brightly lit areas to dimly illuminated ones. However, people with night blindness can see rather well in the presence of sufficient light. People with night blindness are known to be prone to dry eyes, blurred vision and reduced contrast vision.   


There are several night blindness causes. The primary cause of night blindness is a genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa wherein the rod cells in the retina of the eye gradually lose their capacity to respond to light. This form of night blindness is incurable and with the passage of time, it worsens. In many cases, the patient’s day time vision also gets affected over a period of time and may lead to complete blindness late in life. In another genetic condition, the rods in the retina do not function properly or do not work at all, right from birth. In this case, the condition doesn’t worsen with the passage of time. The loss of side vision or injury to the retina can also result in night blindness. Cataracts and glaucoma medications can also be responsible for night blindness as they tend to restrict vision. Another cause of night blindness is vitamin deficiency. A deficiency of Vitamin A or retinol is known to lead to night blindness.  


The success and curing option for night blindness treatment depends primarily on the cause of the condition. Genetically caused night blindness is generally incurable. However, proper eye care, regular visits to the ophthalmologist and an increased intake of vitamin A can delay permanent blindness by a few years. Cataract surgeries and termination of glaucoma medication can help in easing the severity of night blindness. In case this form of blindness is caused by a nutritional deficiency, including foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots, cod liver oil, liver and dairy products can help in the treatment of night blindness. In some cases, vitamin A supplements may be prescribed by an ophthalmologist. In the case of people already wearing spectacles, regular eye tests and changing of lenses when needed can prevent night blindness. With the progress of medical expertise, in the future, artificial retinal implants and gene therapy may be useful in the treatment of genetically triggered night blindness. 


A night blindness test is extremely simple and can be performed at home itself. However, consulting an ophthalmologist is recommended for a true analysis. When testing for night blindness, dimming the light and looking at an object is all that is needed. While doing so, the person’s ability to see at varying levels of light as well as the time taken to see the object is taken into consideration. Based on these observations, the ophthalmologist may further conduct tests to determine if the night blindness is deficiency related or due to retinal defects or other eye irregularities.  


Submitted on January 16, 2014