Night Blindness Treatment

Night Blindness Treatment

Treating night blindness is possible, with correct diagnosis and early course of action. This article details the various ways in which it can be cured.
Most Common Cause
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common causes of night blindness, all over the world and particularly in the developing countries.
Night blindness is a rare disease, which affects about less than 200,000 people in the United States of America. It is a unique vision loss disease, which has many causes. Also known as Nyctalopia, it is defined as an inability to see clearly during night or in poor light. It is a disease which makes it difficult for the affected person to move or drive around in the evening and night, as the vision either becomes unclear or completely impaired. It is a serious type of vision loss, that may be acquired or congenital.
Symptoms
Night blindness is an eye problem which is not hard to spot due to its unique nature. Here are some of its observed symptoms in affected patients:
  • A major symptom is poor or blurred vision, in low lit areas or during and after evening time.
  • One more symptom is prolonged vision loss after exposure to bright light.
  • The blindness phases may be transient or may be getting gradually prolonged.
  • Persistent dry eyes is another symptom of this disease.
Treatment Methods According to Causes
Now that we know the symptoms of this disease, let us see look at the reasons behind this vision-crippling condition, that renders a person temporarily blind. Night blindness, like the tip of an iceberg, can be a sign of a much more dangerous underlying medical condition. The causes are varied and therefore, treatment also differs accordingly. Here, I list the various causes, along with the related treatment methods.
Myopia or Untreated Nearsightedness
Myopia, that is nearsightedness, can lead to night blindness. It is caused by the elongation of the eyeballs, which makes it difficult to see things at a distance due to the focus mismatch on the retina. This makes distant objects appear blurred and causes vision impairment in low lit areas.

Treatment
Myopia can be cured by the use of corrective glasses or lenses. In some cases, refractive surgery might be required. LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery is an effective treatment option. It sculpts the cornea to restore the focusing ability of the eye. An alternative to LASIK, for myopia patients is PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy).
Glaucoma and Related Medications that Constrict Pupils
Glaucoma is a disease which causes pressure build up on the eyes, eventually causing blindness as it affects the optic nerve. The disease can also lead to Nyctalopia, in its initial stages.

Glaucoma medications, can cause constriction of the pupils in the eyes, which may lead to night blindness. Pupils are the apertures of our eye lenses and their constriction reduces the amount of light that can be taken in, which reduces visibility, causing night blindness. Since glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness, if left unchecked, it is recommended that you visit a doctor at the slightest early signs.

Treatment
Glaucoma can be effectively cured through surgery and laser treatment, that can efficiently flush the eye's aqueous drainage mechanism. Drugs may also be prescribed to lessen the pressure buildup in the eye, but surgery is the most effective form of treatment. Laser trabeculoplasty, trabeculectomy, and surgical implants are some of the prescribed procedures, that can prevent pressure buildup inside the eye.

Night blindness, triggered by glaucoma medications, can be cured by switching them with other alternatives, through the consultation of your ophthalmologist.
Cataracts
Cataract is one problem which can cause night blindness. It involves the progressive clouding of the eye lens, making it opaque and impairing vision.

Treatment
This type may be treated by cataract surgeries, which can completely cure the problem. The surgery involves the insertion of an ultrasound probe into the eye, which dissolves the clouded eye lens, through phacoemulsification. Following the dissolution, the debris is suctioned out through the same probe. Finally, an artificial lens is inserted to replace the clouded lens, which is the conclusive part of the procedure.
Retinitis Pigmentosa
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a genetic disease, whose onset is declared by the condition of night blindness. As the disease progresses, the victim loses vision all together. Usher syndrome is a condition that may cause retinitis pigmentosa, along with hearing loss, indirectly leading to Nyctalopia.

Treatment
This condition is not completely curable yet but the rate of progression of this disease can be reduced by intake of vitamin A supplements and surgeries. Complete cure has not yet been found. Though future developments like retinal transplants may help in curing this problem completely. Wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from the assault of UV rays is a recommended precautionary measure, that may help sustain vision.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the prime causes of night blindness, as it plays a major role in the functioning of the retina, which enables visual perception.

Treatment
The treatment for this type of night blindness is regular intake of vitamin A. Progressive intake of vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, dried apricots, tuna fish, mango, and its supplements can cure this condition.
Zinc Deficiency
Another cause might be the deficiency of zinc. This mineral works in tandem with vitamin A to make it effective in driving the vision mechanism. Its deficiency may lead to reduced visibility and night blindness.

Treatment
Generally, the recommended treatment is the restoration of zinc supply through intake of foods like beef, nuts, poultry, and beef.
Diabetes
Night blindness can be a result of excessively high blood glucose levels, caused by a diabetic condition. Vision loss is a major symptom of severe diabetes.

Treatment
Early detection of diabetic condition and treatment methods like insulin injections, can reduce the severity of the disease. This will reduce the possibility of further deterioration of vision. The treatment involves use of eyeglasses and in severe cases, some surgery might be required.
Exposure to Sunlight
Temporary night blindness might occur due to prolonged direct exposure to solar radiation. This may last for a day or two. Long-term direct exposure to sunlight may also cause macular degeneration and cataracts.

Treatment
The effect usually wears off, after a day or two. You will need to restrict your movement in those days and rest your eyes. Using sunglasses and broad rimmed hats is one way of protecting your eyes, to prevent this problem from arising.
Keratoconus
The distortion of the cornea from the normal dome or spherical to conical shape is known as keratoconus. It occurs due to the weakening of collagen fibers, that normally hold the cornea in its correct position. Among the many symptoms of this condition, one is the reduced vision in low light conditions. Sensitivity to bright light, itching, and distorted vision are some of the other symptoms. This condition usually runs in families.

Treatment
There are a range of treatment options, that may be implemented, according to the severity of the condition. They include the use of soft contact lenses, intacs plastic rings, and rigid gas permeable contact lenses that correct the shape of the cornea. Surgical options might also be considered in extreme cases.
There are many more causes of this disease, but they are rare. One other rare genetic problem leading to this disease, is X-linked congenital stationary night blindness, which is an incurable condition.
Treatment of this disease is possible in most cases, except the genetic disorders. The probability of guaranteed cure is more with early diagnosis of the condition. A complete eye test is essential to determine the exact cause of the condition. The testing procedure evaluates visual acuity, pupil light reflex, the ability for color vision and includes refraction testing. A slit lamp examination is also conducted. An electroretinogram and visual field test, might also be conducted. Consult a qualified ophthalmologist for a precise diagnosis.
Disclaimer: This article is for reference purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a certified medical practitioner.