Decreased night vision is a common concern for adults over 50. Although some middle-aged adults may realize that their night vision is not as clear as it once was, others may try to deny there is a problem. Decreased night vision among older adults is especially concerning because it may affect their ability to drive after dark.
Causes of Night Vision ProblemsDifficulty seeing in dim light is known as night blindness. Night blindness isn’t actually a disorder – it’s a symptom of other underlying problems. One common cause of night blindness is untreated nearsightedness or myopia. Night blindness can also have a variety of other causes, including vitamin A or zinc deficiency and exposure to the sun.
Night vision problems can be caused by chronic diseases, such as diabetes. People with diabetes often experience nerve damage, which can affect the retina and lead to night blindness. Problems specific to the eye can also cause night vision problems. For example, the first sign of cataracts is often declining night vision. Glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye and may also cause this problem. Complications of LASIK surgery can cause problems with night vision.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Night Vision Problems
Those who suffer with night vision problems should make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist. The doctor will dilate the patient’s eyes and examine them using a bright light to examine the inner parts of the eye. Other tests may also be performed. Any serious cause of night blindness can be detected through this type of exam.
Treatment for night vision problems depends upon the cause. Cataracts can be treated with surgery, and vitamin A and zinc deficiencies can easily be corrected with diet or supplements. If night blindness is caused by diabetes, tight blood sugar control may lead to improvement. For patients who have night vision problems caused by untreated myopia, corrective lenses may correct the problem.
Aging and Night Vision ProblemsNight vision problems are especially common among older adults for a variety of reasons. For many older adults, vision changes happen so gradually that they go unnoticed. According to All About Vision, pupils of older people don’t allow as much light to enter the eye. The cornea and lens can become less clear. Older adults have a reduced ability to discern small differences in brightness, which can make it more difficult to see objects in dark or dim light.
More serious eye problems that are related to the aging process can cause decreased night vision. Examples include diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.