Night blindness, also referred to as nyctalopia is a medical condition wherein the patient is unable to see in darkness or dim light conditions. This is an extremely grave health disorder that results in severe handicaps like inability to drive at night and even walk independently at night. Certain other symptoms linked with night blindness include hazy vision, double vision, incapability of distinguishing shapes in the dark, and dryness in the eyes. Night blindness may be caused due to several reasons.
Deficiency of Vitamin A is one of them. Insufficient levels of this nutrient in the human body affect the retina in the eye adversely; thereby resulting in night blindness. The medical condition of cataract also makes the eye lens hazy that results in not only vision problems at night but during the day hours as well.
Night blindness is also associated with retinal degeneration like retinitis pigmentosa. Some of the other potential causes of night blindness include genetic abnormalities, repercussion of certain medicines and the incapability of adjusting to high and low intensity light conditions.
Risk factors associated with occurrence of night blindness include family history of retinal degeneration, people suffering from cataracts especially the elderly, and those experiencing deficiency of Vitamin A. Apart from inadequate intake of vitamin A in diet, insufficient levels of the vitamin could also be caused in the body owing to the body’s incapability of absorbing the nutrient that is generally observed in people having undergone pancreas or liver surgeries or those suffering from problems related to the intestines.
Treatment is relatively simpler in cases where the cause of night blindness is either cataract or deficiency of Vitamin A. While in the former case, removal of the cataract rectifies the problem; the latter cause can be dealt with by taking vitamin A supplements. As a general rule, doctors advocate incorporation of sufficient quantities of vitamin A in one’s diet as this nutrient benefits one and all.
However, unfortunately there is little hope for those suffering from night blindness owing to birth defects or retinal degeneration. Nevertheless, it is advisable to consult a doctor at the earliest especially in cases of retinal degeneration, as early medical intervention may aid in maintaining vision for an extended time frame and prevent rapid downfall. Night blindness can be extremely risky for the patient’s life. Therefore, those suffering from this condition should completely avoid driving at night and in fact take assistance for even walking in order to avoid falling and hurting oneself.
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