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Causes and Symptoms of Night Blindness

Night blindness makes it difficult for you to see in dim light. Take steps to maintain your eye health and reduce stress to help prevent its onset.

Close-up of a woman’s hands on a steering wheel. 

Are you as blind as a bat at night? You probably have night blindness, which is also known as nyctalopia. It isn’t a condition itself, but a symptom of other conditions.

Visualise (no pun intended) this: In a dimly lit environment, your pupils naturally dilate to let in more light. The light is captured by the retina, which contains rod and cone cells. Rod cells help you see in the dark, whereas cone cells aid colour vision. If the rod cells suffer damage due to injury or disease, it may cause decreased or a complete loss of night vision.

Learn about the common causes of night blindness and how you can improve symptoms naturally.

What are the Causes and Symptoms of Night Blindness? 

There are several possibilities for the occurrence of night blindness: 

  • Near-sightedness 
  • Glaucoma: Increased eye pressure causing optical nerve damage 
  • Cataracts: Hardened proteins in the lens due to ageing 
  • Diabetes mellitus: Changes to the shape of the lens and damage to blood vessels in the eyes 
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: A group of inherited eye diseases where there is retina damage, causing rod cell and cone cell breakdown 
  • Vitamin A deficiency: Weakened production of the pigments (rhodopsin) needed for night vision 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), internal pathogenic factors and imbalances are the causes of night blindness.

”Apart from internal pathogenic factors, night blindness can also happen if you have Kidney Yin (passive energy), Heart Yang (active energy), Spleen Qi (vital life force), and Liver Blood Deficiencies. Old age, eye or head trauma, long-term medication use, and pre-existing medical conditions due to an unhealthy lifestyle are the most common risk factors of these imbalances.” 

Real Health Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew

As a result, you may find it difficult to drive at night or suffer from blur vision in low light. You might also experience an intense straining of the eyes, reduced contrast sensitivity, and trouble seeing in a dimly lit environment. 

Beat Night Blindness with These Treatment Options

Close-up of a man wearing a pair of sunglasses as he smiles gleefully.
Sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays may help you avoid night blindness. 

A future with night blindness can appear bleak, but don’t let it get you down. The best-case scenario? You may only need to get new prescription glasses or replace your existing glaucoma medication.

If you have cataracts, there’s no hiding from the fact that cataract surgery is the only way to correct night blindness. As for retinal diseases, the right course of treatment can only be determined after consulting a retinal specialist.

For the time being, there are a few steps that can potentially lower your risk of developing night blindness. These include: 

  • Exercising regularly 
  • Getting regular eye check-ups 
  • Fuelling up on vitamin A-rich foods, such as cantaloupe, spinach, butternut squash, and eggs 
  • Using sunglasses that block out 99% of UVA and UVB rays, offer 360˚ protection (no dead angles and blind zones, and prevents degree deepening) and filter up to 90% of blue light  
  • Using natural health supplements made from various herbal ingredients for your eye health 

Use herbal remedies  

Don’t turn a blind eye to formulas that help improve vision quality by dispelling pathogens and encouraging better qi circulation. A TCM physician may prescribe these

  • Bao Yuan Tang (保元汤) 
  • Di Tan Tang (涤痰汤) 
  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (补中益气汤) 
  • Tong Qiao Huo Xue Tang (通窍活血汤) 
  • Chai Hu Shu Gan San (柴胡疏肝散) 
  • Qi Ju Di Huang Wan (杞菊地黄丸) 

Self-massage acupoints 

Specific acupressure massage techniques can improve night blindness. The treatment complements the effects of acupuncture and herbal remedies, which should be prescribed by a licensed TCM physician.  

Physician Yew recommends that you work on localised acupoints like yang bai (GB14, 阳白), tai yang (EX-HN5, 太阳), and yi ming (EX-HN14, 翳明). To the same effect, you can apply pressure to distal acupoints like da gu kong (EX-UE5, 大骨空), xiao gu kong (EX-UE6, 小骨空), and guang ming (GB37, 光明).

Learning what’s causing your night blindness can go a long way in managing the symptom holistically. While we support the use of natural remedies, it’s best that you consult a licensed TCM practitioner before self-medicating.

Did you find these tips on improving night blindness useful? Share them with your loved ones.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Night Blindness (Nyctalopia). [online] [Accessed 3 February 2023]  
  2. Optometrists Network. 2020. What Causes Night Blindness? [online] [Accessed 3 February 2023] 
  3. Medical News Today. Do I Have Night Blindness [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023] 

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