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What You Should Know About Night Blindness

If you don’t see well while driving at night, there’s a chance you have night blindness. Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. It’s not considered an eye disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.

Our eye doctor can help diagnose, manage and treat your night blindness so that you can enjoy being out at night again.

Here are 4 things you should know about night blindness:

Causes of Night Blindness

The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:

Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps keep your cornea, the layer at the front of your eye, clear; it’s also an important component of rhodopsin, a protein that enables you to see in low light conditions. Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of this vitamin can induce night blindness.

CataractsA buildup of protein clouds the eye’s lens, leading to impaired vision, especially at night and in poor lighting conditions.

Diabetic RetinopathyDamage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night.

GlaucomaThis group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Both glaucoma and the medications used to treat it can cause night blindness.

MyopiaAlso called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry, and patients with it describe a starburst effect around lights at night.

KeratoconusAn irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.

Usher SyndromeThis genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.

Symptoms of Nyctalopia

Since night blindness is a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Contact your eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice that you don’t see as well in dim light as you used to, such as when driving at night or when adjusting from being outdoors in the sunshine to being indoors.

Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:

  • Reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
  • Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
  • Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
  • Excessive squinting at night
  • Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones

Treatments for Night Blindness

Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A rich foods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery.

If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision.

Prevention

While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness.

If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact EYEcenter Optometric in Citrus Heights to schedule your appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

How Can My Child’s Myopia Be Corrected?

At EYEcenter Optometric, we help children like yours achieve clear and comfortable vision, so they can succeed at the important things in life.

Methods of Myopia Correction

Contact Lenses

Contacts can be a great choice, especially for physically active children or teens who don’t want to worry about breaking or misplacing their eyeglasses. In some cases of very high myopia, contact lenses can offer clearer vision than glasses.

Corrective contact lenses are usually placed in the eyes upon waking and removed at night before bedtime. There are several types, including: soft contacts, daily disposables, extended wear, and rigid gas permeable (hard) lenses. Navigating through the differences between them can be daunting. Fortunately, if you’re located in Citrus Heights our eye doctor will be happy to guide you. Speak with Palmer N. Lee, O.D. to determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.

Prescription Glasses

Glasses are a popular choice among our younger patients. Choosing from an array of styles makes the process fun and exciting! Allowing the children to be active participants in selecting their imeeyewear increases the likelihood that they’ll actually wear them. There are strong, flexible and resilient frames which look great and are comfortable too.

The optician can customize the lenses with additions and upgrades like impact-resistant or shatter-proof materials, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, UV filters, and transition lenses that darken in the sun. For those requiring vision correction for distance and near, we also offer bifocal or multifocal lens prescriptions.

We Can Help Correct Your Child’s Myopia

If you’re located near Citrus Heights, California , an eye exam with our optometrist can determine your child’s exact prescription, and give you the opportunity to receive answers to any questions you may have about your child’s eye health and vision. Progressive myopia, where a growing child’s prescription continues to worsen, is why it’s important for myopic children to undergo eye exams at least once a year.

At EYEcenter Optometric, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to recommend the most suitable method of correcting your child’s myopia to meet his or her individual needs. Thanks to the wide range options available, your child will walk away with eyewear that will not only enhance his or her style but will also be a boost of confidence.

Let us help your child see the world in a whole new light. To schedule your child’s annual eye exam or if you have any further questions, contact EYEcenter Optometric at 916-727-6518 today.

The Alarming Increase and Incidence of Myopia

As this author has stated during numerous personal interactions and is almost universally accepted by experts, the numbers of myopia patients, and especially among young people, has been experiencing a near-epidemic rise world-wide. To wit, myopia is now one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world. Dr. Fuerst often says that “myopia is approaching epidemic proportions, having increased nearly 70% in the US in the last century” and it is estimated to affect 50 percent of the worlFd’s population by 2050. Obviously, the concern with the increasing prevalence of myopia as a global health concern is due to the potentially sight-threatening pathologies such as myopic macular degeneration, choroidal neovascularization, cataract, and glaucoma associated with high myopia. While these ocular diseases are generally associated with older patients, often the seeds that ultimately cause the eye diseases mentioned above, are sown decades earlier. Indeed, Dr. Fuerst often cautions “it’s important for parents to understand that myopia, left untreated, can cause serious vision problems later in life including retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.”

While the exact mechanisms causing myopia and its progression, particularly in the juvenile population, remain unknown, a number of strong theories exist. One theory that we at EYEcenter subscribe to relates to the fact that the human eye is focused on drastically different stimuli than it historically has been. Whereas hunter-gatherer societies relied upon their eyes for primarily distance vision, the modern eye is increasingly and continuously adapting to the modern (often, near) environment. The high prevalence of myopia among populations that spend a lot of time doing near vision tasks (school children, people working with computers) further support this hypothesis.

One very popular innovation that may deserve some of the blame is technology, such as computers, television and particularly smartphones. Concomitant with the stark increase in the incidences of myopia, a number of significant technological leaps have been developed and are now commonplace. For example, the number of smartphone users has doubled in the last 15 years and there are more cellphone plans in the world than there are people! People are using technology and watching and sharing media in a way that was only made possible in the relatively recent past – whether entertainment video, sharing photos, social media, surfing the Internet, or work-related uses and all this can be done on a smartphone screen that may only be a few inches large.

Regular Eye Exams With Your Family Eye Doctor

Articles are replete with statistics regarding the median age when a child gets his or her first smartphone. This ‘rite of passage’ is happening at younger and younger ages. Couple the young and immature smartphone user with a general lack of boundaries, and the result is that some children as young as 8 years old can spend between 4 and 6 hours a day on a mobile device. Dr. Fuerst often laments that “of particular concern is the increase in incidences of myopia in children. Treatment comes in two parts, prevention and intervention. Parents can take steps to limit close work like screen time and consult with their optometrist about ways to manage the impacts of nearsightedness on their kids’ lives.” The fact that our relatively recent technological advancements coincided with higher and increasingly higher myopia rates while the screens that people are watching are getting smaller and smaller and thus the necessity for keeping the device closer to your eyes does seem to indicate a connection. In all, the question must be pondered, can these changes that are occurring in our lifetimes be causing, at least in part, the worldwide myopia epidemic?

 

 

 

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