Nyctalopia or Night blindness as the name suggests,is a condition which makes it difficult for a person to see in the night or in poorly illuminated environment.Often it is suggestive of an underlying condition.
What actually happens to our eyes in low light? Our eyes constantly adjust to the light around us.In low lit environment,the pupils (the black circle in the centre of the eyes)dilate (gets bigger)so as to facilitate the entry of more light.The light then falls on the retina where we have the rods and cones,the former helping to see in dim vision and the latter responsible for colour vision.When the rods are affected due to any reason,your dim light vision suffers.
What are the underlying causes for night blindness? There are umpteen causes for nyctalopia,the most common being: Vitamin A deficiency Myopia(Near-sightedness) Cataract Glaucoma(a condition where pressure in the eyes increase) Certain drugs Certain genetic conditions like Retinitis pigmentosa
Visit the ophthalmologist(eye specialist) if you are in doubt,for a detailed evaluation.
Treatment The treatment depends on the cause.For example,if it is caused by cataract,you need to undergo surgery.Sometimes all you would need is new eyeglasses or a change in your existing glaucoma medications.However if retinal pathologies are suspected, specific treatment might have to be considered.
Can I prevent night blindness? If due to genetic conditions,you may not be able to alter it to an extent.But there are things you can do to brace yourself from acquired causes:
1.Vitamin A enriched foods which includes but not limited to: Carrots Spinach Cantaloupes Milk Cheese Eggs Liver and liver products and so on.
2.Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.Ensure that the glasses provide protection from all angles as well as effectively filter the light entering the eyes.
3.Get regular eye checkup from your ophthalmologist particularly if you are diabetic or have high blood pressure.
4.Vitamin A supplementation to children as prophylaxis against blindness by the Government of India every six months for a total of nine doses starting at 9 months of age.
Remember to get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist if you feel you find it difficult to drive at night or unable to see properly in a dimly lit restaurant.Also do get your child's eyes checked frequently if your doctor advises so!