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What causes poor night vision?

Dr. Louis B. Cantor, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

It is important to have a complete eye exam to rule out cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration as causing symptoms that might be associated with or confused with night blindness. Vitamin deficiencies and retinitis pigmentosa may also lead to problems with night vision and can be diagnosed by your Eye M.D. Oftentimes the symptoms of poor night vision can be lessened by appropriate glasses or by just using good lighting for certain tasks. 

Dr. Gary S. Hirshfield, MD
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

This is a very common symptom. These symptoms call for a comprehensive exam from an Eye M.D. In this exam, the eye doctor will first evaluate whether you have refractive error, which is hyperopia, myopia, and/or astigmatism or a combination of these. Small refractive errors can cause big symptoms particularly at night. So correcting this with spectacles and adding an anti-reflective coating can help.

Next, the Eye M.D. will look at the ocular surface and particularly the cornea. Dry eyes and blepharitis are very common conditions that affect the quality of vision through the cornea by affecting the quality of the tear film and the ocular surface. Treatment of these can often help.

Next, the Eye M.D. will want to look at your natural lens for a cataract. Not seeing an object at night until it is close to you is often the first presenting complaint of cataract and, if severe enough, surgery may be necessary to remove the cataract. The eye doctor will also want to evaluate your macula and nerve for early signs of age-related changes.

Declining vision, particularly among patients entering their 60s, often is more evident at night and in dimly lit environments. This is most often due to the development of a cataract, notes D. Rex Hamilton, M.D., director of the UCLA Laser Refractive Center. “It’s inevitable that patients will develop cataracts as they get older, but it’s not something they should have to live with.”

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.