Everything You Need to Know About Night Blindness

The human eye isn't designed to see in the dark, but our pupils adapt to low-light conditions to give us an optimal view of our surroundings. The same can't be said of people suffering from night blindness or nyctalopia. 

An Overview of Nyctalopia

Often experienced by the elderly and individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, night blindness is characterized by difficulty in seeing in the dark. Under low-light environments, patients with this condition find it harder to locate objects in the dark compared to people with normal eyesight.

Others may also take a longer time to adjust to a sudden shift to low-light conditions. To some, night blindness doesn't appear to be a legitimate disability, but those who suffer from it see it as a major hindrance to a quality of life.

The Complications that Night Blindness Brings

As a form of vision impairment, night blindness consists of several symptoms that vary from one patient to another. Generally, those who have it experience cloudy vision and difficulty seeing objects that lie far away in the darkness. Some may even experience excessive glare when they focus on a single light source such as a candle or a flashlight. 

The impairment could be partial but there are cases when patients may have total loss of vision even in low-light situations. This makes driving a hazard to people with nyctalopia. Their poor vision raises the risk of road accidents. 

The dangers of daylight savings raise this risk because setting the time ahead in the spring causes some people to lose sleep and, with it, concentration. Night blindness does not only affect driving. If you have it, you may find it difficult to watch a movie in a dark theater or move around during a sudden blackout. It's for these reasons that nyctalopia has been recognized as a disability by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Possible Causes of Nyctalopia

Night blindness generally pertains to a failure of the irises (the muscles that adjust the pupils) to expand, resulting in low volumes of light reaching your retinas. There are numerous reasons why this happens. Some studies suggest the condition is genetic, while others point to ailments that commonly cause poor vision like glaucoma. It could also occur as a postoperative side effect of a major surgery. A deficiency in Vitamin A can also be the main culprit, in which case you can take supplements to improve your vision in the dark.

How to Live with Night Blindness

In most cases, nyctalopia could be a permanent condition that requires the intervention of an ophthalmologist who may prescribe possible treatments depending on the nature of your condition. 

If it's caused primarily by glaucoma, you may have to monitor your blood sugar level regularly. If it's caused mainly by cataracts, opt to have these removed. Genetic causes may not be treatable, but your specialist could advise you to wear corrective contact lenses.

Regardless of the nature of your nyctalopia, you're entitled to the same social security benefits as any other person with a disability, but this will depend largely on the state where you live and the severity of your condition. Under Social Security rules, you may qualify for disability benefits if your impairment meets the agency's criteria.


Night blindness may not appear as a real condition to some, but its adverse effects on the people who have it are difficult to ignore. If you have this, regular checkups and the right interventions should help you cope and lower your risk of getting into night-time accidents. 

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