I can’t see well at night. Can Laser Eye Surgery help?

12 Feb 2014

Probably not. Although sometimes treatable, problems with night vision could be anything from an early sign of progressive cataracts, to an indication of a congenital issue like retinitis pigmentosa or other more serious conditions. There a number of potential causes, and it’s best to visit an Optometrist to get your eyes tested.

Poor Night Vision

Difficulty with night vision can stem from conditions ranging from exposure to the sun and vitamin deficiencies, to a chronic disease like diabetes.

Cataracts

The lens of the eye is located behind the pupil. Over a lifetime, the process of cell turnover inside the lens produces debris that gradually builds up. This creates a cataract. Painless and progressive, cataracts slowly cloud the lens.

 

The first symptom of cataracts is often decreased night vision. The light distortion caused by cataracts also frequently produces halos around lights -- again, mostly at night. Blurry vision is also common.

Vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that's found in carrots and yellow or green leafy vegetables. It helps keep the retina -- in the back of the eye -- healthy.

 

Vitamin A deficiency is a rare cause of night blindness, as it occurs mostly in people with problems absorbing nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. This might occur as a result of different diseases and conditions such as Crohns disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatic insufficiency.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc works in the eye as a partner to vitamin A. Without zinc, the vitamin A that's present may not be as effective, and night blindness could result. Beef, poultry, beans, and nuts are rich sources of zinc. It’s a rare problem in Ireland because of our diet.

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is an uncommon genetic disorder. It affects young people, usually before age 30. Worsening night vision is often the earliest symptom. Variable amounts of vision loss follow, although most people retain some eyesight.

 

Sunlight exposure

 

If your night vision seems temporarily worse after a trip to the beach, it probably is. Sustained bright sunlight can impair night vision for up to two days. Wear your sunglasses regularly to avoid this cause of poor night vision.

 

Diabetes

 

People with diabetes are at higher risk for night vision problems. Over years, high blood sugar is toxic to the blood vessels and nerves in the eye.

 

The retina -- the back of the eye where images are focused -- is gradually damaged (retinopathy). Two early signs of retinopathy from diabetes are poor night vision and taking a long time to see normally after coming indoors from bright light outside.

 

If you are experiencing any vision problems, call an Optometrist to get an eye test. Although an Optometrist cannot treat complex eye diseases or issues, they can refer you to an appropriate specialist.

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