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Nyctalopia/Night Blindness

What is Nyctalopia?

Nyctalopia, also called night blindness, is a condition where a person suffers from poor vision in dim light. It occurs due to a defect in the retina which may arise from myopia, or near-sightedness, or maybe the result of diabetes, glaucoma, or cataracts. Vitamin A deficiency may also contribute to nyctalopia.

What are the Causes of Nyctalopia/Night Blindness?

There are two types of light-sensitive cells called rods and cones in the retina. The rods help us see in dim light while the cones enable us to see in brightly-lit settings. Nyctalopia is caused when the rods lose their ability to focus properly at night and under dim light due to the following:

  • Pre-existing health conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes
  • A vitamin A-deficient diet

Other causes may include medications used to treat glaucoma and a genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa.

What are the Symptoms of Nyctalopia/Night Blindness?

People with nyctalopia/night blindness find it difficult to see at night. It is especially difficult when moving from a bright to a dim environment.

How is Nyctalopia/Night Blindness Diagnosed?

Your eye specialist/ophthalmologist will review your symptoms and perform a detailed eye exam to assess the complete health of your eyes. Blood tests may be ordered to determine levels of vitamin A and blood glucose.

What are the Treatments Available for Nyctalopia/Night Blindness?

Nyctalopia is treated based upon its cause. It may not require treatment if the symptoms are mild. The first line of treatment usually involves corrective lenses. Sometimes medications are prescribed to treat glaucoma by reducing the intraocular pressure (the pressure within the eyes).

If your symptoms are not improving and are caused due to cataracts or retinal disease, then your doctor may recommend surgery to treat those conditions.

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