Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Night Blindness

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Night Blindness

(Nyctanopia; Nyctalopia; Day Sight; Nocturnal Amblyopia)


Night blindness is trouble seeing in the dark or in low light. It can make it hard to drive in the evening and at night.

The Retina of the Eye.

AR00025_96472_1http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=62226222AR00025_96472_1.jpegThe Retina of the Eye NULLjpegAR00025_96472_1NULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\AR00025_96472_1.jpegNULL82NULL2006-01-264054006222_96907Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Night blindness is caused by problems that affect certain cells in the eye's retina. These cells are called cones. Cones help a person see in dim light. Some causes of night blindness are:

Risk Factors

Night blindness is more common in older adults. This is because many eye conditions develop as people get older. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Common vision disorders , such as nearsightedness
  • History of eye disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma, or keratoconus
  • Family history of eye disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Medicine for glaucoma that constricts (narrows) the pupil
  • Genetic mutations that contribute to eye disorders
  • Not getting enough vitamin A
  • Problems absorbing vitamin A due to:
    • Liver or pancreatic disorders
    • Intestinal conditions
    • Gastric bypass surgery for obesity


Symptoms of night blindness are:

  • Problems seeing in low light or darkness—even with glasses or contact lenses
  • Bright headlights at night cause problems seeing—for a few seconds after they pass
  • Problems adjusting to low or high levels of light


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A complete eye exam will be done. A blood test can be used to check vitamin A levels.


Treatment depends on the cause of night blindness. Options may include:

  • Taking vitamin A supplements
  • Having cataracts removed
  • Taking medicines to treat eye conditions
  • Using low-vision aids and making lifestyle adjustments

Extra safety measures should be taken when needed. This may mean not driving in the evening or at night.


To help reduce the risk of night blindness:

  • Follow treatment plans for conditions that may contribute to night blindness
  • Have regular eye exams as advised by your eye doctor
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin A such as:
    • Leafy greens and orange vegetables
    • Milk and eggs




  • Demmin DL, Silverstein SM. Visual impairment and mental health: unmet needs and treatment options. Clin Ophthalmol. 2020;14:4229-4251.
  • Glaucoma and driving. Glaucoma Research Foundation website. Available at: http://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/glaucoma-and-driving.php.
  • Liu CJ, Chang MC. Interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice to improve performance of daily activities for older adults with low vision: a systematic review. Am J Occup Ther. 2020;74(1):7401185010p1-7401185010p18.
  • Night blindness. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/10118-night-blindness-nyctalopia.
  • Night blindness, congenital stationary. The University of Arizona Health Sciences website. Available at: http://disorders.eyes.arizona.edu/disorders/night-blindness-congenital-stationary-csnb1h.
  • Posterior uveitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/posterior-uveitis.
  • Primary open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-open-angle-glaucoma.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/retinitis-pigmentosa.
  • Shah P, Schwartz SG, et al. Low vision services: a practical guide for the clinician. Ther Adv Ophthalmol. 2018;10:2515841418776264.
  • Shedding Light on night blindness. American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/shedding-light-on-night-blindness.
  • Vitamin A deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vitamin-a-deficiency-16.


  • Mark Arredondo, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.