Why Am I Struggling to See at Night? Night Blindness Explained

Many of us suffer from poor night vision (nyctalopia), and it is among the most disheartening ophthalmic complaints out there. An inability to see well at night is an often-overlooked condition, but one that can have pretty serious consequences if left untreated – not to mention it can be extremely inconvenient. Whether it’s stopping you from driving at night or even impacting your ability to go out after the sun has set, it can be debilitating, especially for your confidence. 

It’s crucial that you go for an eye test if you’re suffering from poor night vision, but it can be very handy to have a good understanding of the symptoms and causes first. This will give you more awareness and an idea of the scale of the problem before booking your eye test.  We’ve laid out some of the key things to know about poor night vision, which will be a great starting point towards understanding and conquering your nyctalopia.

What Are the Symptoms?

It may seem a bit obvious to state it outright, but night blindness is typically categorised by an inability to see well in dark places. In our experience, it’s common for patients to see that definition and think it applies to everybody, but in truth many people see quite well in low light conditions. If you’re unable to, it’s likely something that will need to be checked out at your next eye test.

As well as struggling generally in the dark, poor night vision can also be recognised by a worsening level of sight when moving from a light place to a dark place – think leaving a bright hallway to an unlit street. This can be especially tricky when driving as we often transition from well lit roads to those with no street lights at all.

If you’re suffering with nyctalopia, you may notice you have trouble seeing objects at a distance. You’re also likely to experience glaring and blurring when you see lights after dark. These are some of the major symptoms of this condition, and they can often have quite dire consequences for our safety, causing falls or even accidents on the road. 

What Are the Causes?

It can be the case that a person is born with this type of eye disorder, but it can also be caused by external factors that develop in the course of our lives. Conditions such as glaucoma, which impacts daytime as well as night-time sight, or the blurriness associated with cataracts can both be causes of nyctalopia. 

Other causes include:

  • Deficiency in vitamin A: nyctalopia is often one of the first signs that you have a deficiency in this crucial vitamin, so if your eyesight problem is a recent one, this may be the underlying problem. 
  • Macular degeneration: this is another problem that can impact your eyes in the day as well as after dark, and you can recognise it by blurriness and blotches appearing in your vision. 
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: this retinal disease causes problems with the rod cells around your retina. 

These problems are all potentially quite impactful, and we recommend an eye test if you believe they may be the underlying cause. 

It is also possible that an injury to the eye or even problems with your current glasses can be the cause of your night blindness. Problems can arise from accidents as well as from surgery (such as laser eye surgery), which can help certain aspects of eyesight but cause changes to parts of the eye that impact sight in low light conditions. In truth, there are a number of potential causes for a problem such as this, but thankfully there are many ways that they can be treated. 

How Can I Improve My Night Vision?

Although a dip in your vision can be a temporary effect of another problem, which may disappear on its own, it shouldn’t be left unattended. An eye test is always the best course of action in situations like these. 

Contrast Testing

Your optometrist may have you take a contrast test which asks you to look at letters in grayscale on white paper. This test will measure your eye’s ability to differentiate between shades and might point towards your underlying problem. As well as the contrast test, there may be other exams that are required to understand the causes of your eyesight issue. 

Lens Coating

For some conditions, your specialist might recommend a new pair of glasses or contact lenses which are specially designed for you to wear after the sun has gone down. There may also be the opportunity for lens coating to be applied, which will have the desired effect. 

Medical Interventions

There are some underlying causes that your physician will recommend surgery or medicine to treat, and these can often be very effective at alleviating problems like cataracts or glaucoma. 

Help is at Hand!

If you’re currently experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above then we really recommend visiting us at David Paul Opticians for an eye test at your earliest convenience. It could be the difference between perfect vision and a lifetime of difficulty. 

Our team of highly trained professional opticians will perform your eye test with care and precision, and determine the best course of action for you depending on your specific circumstances. These problems can be serious, or they can resolve on their own, and with our specialist knowledge we hope to be able to rule out underlying causes and provide you with all the help and support you need to see better at night. You can visit us in store or check out our website where you can book a consultation with one of our highly trained opticians.