Driving at night can be a daunting concept for many people, with reduced visibility and a complete change in the special awareness required to operate a vehicle safely, many people simply choose to avoid night driving as they feel so insecure. However, many of those people who do feel uncomfortable or unsafe may actually be suffering from a condition recognised by the medical community: Night Blindness.
We must first point out that your eyes should be checked, and rectified if necessary, on a regular basis. As we get older, our eyesight can deteriorate, and the subtle changes that occur may not be noticeable, we might not actually realise that our vision is so impaired. Regular checks are the only safe way of ensuring this.
In addition, if you do feel like you might suffer from any of the symptoms we are about to mention, you must visit a qualified optician, we are simply offering an overview of one of many hidden vision problems.
We must realise that it is normal for us to feel different driving at night, and that does not mean we have night blindness. In low light conditions, the levels of visual acuity decrease in part because, on the one hand, there is a central area in the field of vision that is less clear (that is why we will see objects moving more clearly than static objects), and on the other, because the colour vision is reduced and we see practically only in white, black and grey shades.
When we talk about night blindness, we are not talking about losing the vision completely, but about the special difficulty that many people have to see at night. This difficulty is also often aggravated during alternating situations of high and low luminosity, such as driving in and out of tunnels for example. These people find it harder to adjust to light when they leave dark environments or darkness when they come from more enlightened environments. That is why one of the greatest difficulties of those who suffer when driving at night is to focus with the intermittent light of car headlights and street lamps.
Night blindness is not a disease or deficiency in itself, but may be a symptom of other ailments. One of the most frequent reasons is myopia and, to a lesser extent, farsightedness. In the human eye, those in charge of the vision in conditions of low luminosity are cells of the retina that, if there is any disease or eye problem, will have difficulty to offer a vision of quality.
At the same sense, nocturnal blindness may also occur in the presence of other eye problems such as cataracts or glaucoma; or not ocular, such as diabetes or diseases of the liver or pancreas. In these latter cases it is the inability to absorb large amounts of vitamin A which can produce night blindness, since it is the one that intervenes in the transformation of the nerve impulses in images in the retina.
How to prevent or cure night blindness
One of the most recommended methods to avoid nocturnal amblyopia is to eat foods high in vitamin A, such as carrots, melons or squash. Although it is generally highly recommended to maintain a healthy diet high in antioxidants and minerals to prevent diabetes or cataracts, other causes of night blindness.
However, once this occurs, the treatment will depend solely on the reason that causes it. In the case of eye defects, night blindness could be eliminated or mitigated by the operation of the condition (such as cataracts) with the use of spectacles with greater negative power (in the case of myopia) or positive (for hyperopia).
If you do feel like you may have a condition like this, remember, as we have said, go to your optician or doctor immediately for advice.