Night Blindness and difficulty driving at night

Do you experience problems seeing at night? Millions of Americans do. A disorder of the cells in the retina responsible for seeing in low light causes night vision loss and night blindness. It might surprise you to know that your night vision differs from your day vision. During the night, your eyes are color blind - they see only a small fraction of what they see during the day. When your eye has a central scotoma (a loss of vision) in the center of its field, you cannot detect stationary objects in the same way you can detect moving objects.

Night Blindness and difficulty driving at night in Olympia

How does night blindness occur?

Various eye conditions can lead to night blindness, including:

Myopia or nearsightedness and Night blindness

Nearsightedness, or blurred vision when viewing distant objects can cause optical difficulties that make seeing at night more difficult. Cataracts and Night Blindness 

Cataracts, or clouding of the eye’s lens, is one of the most common causes of difficulty with vision at night. Older adults are more likely to develop cataracts. As a result, they're more likely to suffer from night blindness resulting from cataracts than children or young adults. Patients with high blood glucose levels or diabetes are also more likely to develop eye diseases, such as cataracts.

Retinitis Pigmentosa & Usher Syndrome and Night Blindness 

People diagnosed with Usher Syndrome will progress to retinitis Pigmentosa which causes cells to break down in the retina,which is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, leading to difficulties with night vision. One of the earliest symptoms for someone with Retinitis Pigmentosa, starting usually at a young age, is night blindness. The rods are the first part of the eye to get impacted from retinitis pigmentosa, which makes it difficult to adjust to changing amounts of light. Furthermore Retinitis Pigmentosa also causes a loss of peripheral vision which can make it even more difficult to navigate safely at night due to the combination of poor night vision and limited peripheral vision. Vitamin A Deficiency and Night Blindness

Vitamin A deficiency may also cause night blindness in very rare cases in the United States or in other countries where diets vary widely. Individuals with pancreatic insufficiency, such as those with cystic fibrosis, are more likely to have vitamin A deficiency because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Consequently, they are more susceptible to night blindness.

Congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB)

An extremely rare condition affecting the retina is congenital stationary night blindness.
Due to impaired photoreceptor transmission, individuals with CSNB have difficulty adjusting to low light situations.

Glaucoma and Night blindness

Advanced primary open angle glaucoma causes a significant amount of damage to our eyes and vision and is a progressive condition that is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. People with glaucoma report difficulties with glare, driving, night vision, and poor color contrast.  

American Family Vision Clinic

What symptoms are associated with night blindness?

Night blindness is characterized by difficulty seeing well in dark or dim lighting, especially after transitioning from a brighter environment to a lower-light environment, like walking from the outside into a room with low lighting. People often have trouble driving at night, particularly when streetlights or oncoming traffic headlights glare into their eyes.

How can night blindness be prevented?

While you cannot prevent genetic predispositions, you can control your lifestyle. Below are some tips to possibly prevent night blindness:

  • Consume foods that contain Vitamin A. Some suggestions are:
  • Carrots.
  • Cantaloupes.
  • Butternut squash.
  • Spinach.
  • Milk.
  • Eggs.
  • Regularly get your eyes checked. Make sure you visit a specialist regularly so they can diagnose any problems with your eyes early.
  • Make sure you wear sunglasses. UV protection keeps your eyes protected from the sun. You may develop cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma as a result of exposure to UV rays.
  • You should exercise. You may prevent eye conditions by exercising regularly. Working out may help lower blood glucose and eye pressure.
  • Slow down the progression of your child's myopia. Since high myopia significantly increases the risk of eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, by proactively reducing myopia progression in children we are preventing them from having issues with night driving as they age. 
  • Use Anti Glare coatings on your eyeglasses, which is very helpful for those that are affected by glare while driving at night. 
  • Be proactive about treating any eye disease such as glaucoma and cataracts. Many times the symptoms improve after treating the glaucoma or doing cataract surgery. 


How can night blindness be prevented?
How can I make driving at night safer if I suffer from night blindness?

How can I make driving at night safer if I suffer from night blindness?

When you get behind the wheel at night, you should take special precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of your vehicle. In 2016, 23 % of all injury crashes and 37 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.


In order to make driving safer for drivers and road users, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) came up with the Golden Rules for Road Safety. Check your vision regularly, protect your eyes from glare, and always wear your glasses while driving. In addition, the FIA advises drivers to:

  • Always pay attention
  • Obey the speed limit
  • Buckle up
  • Use a child safety seat
  • Check their tyres
  • Don't text and drive
  • Stay bright in reflective gear
  • Wear a helmet
  • Stop when they're tired
  • Watch out for pedestrians, especially kids
  • Slow down for kids
  • Never drink and drive


How can I make driving at night safer if I suffer from night blindness?

How is it treated?

Night blindness can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on its cause.

A cataract is surgically removed. The doctor will remove your clouded natural lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens. Most people find that their vision improves after the surgery, although some will still require glasses.

You can prevent night blindness if you keep diabetic retinopathy under control.

In case of retinal disease, a retina specialist will need to assess you further to determine the type of disease. You can schedule a medical eye exam with our eye doctors today, call us at (360) 491-2121.


Common Questions

Night blindness affects more than just driving and can also affect your mobility and safety at night. You may be suffering from night blindness if you find that you stumble, fall, fumble, or bang around more than normal when you are walking around your bedroom, bathroom, or house at night. As dangerous as driving is, trip-and-fall accidents in the home are equally dangerous. Your overall health and wellbeing depend on protecting your vision and receiving any necessary visual corrections.
The most common cause of night blindness is vitamin A deficiency. Rhodopsin, the pigment needed for night vision, is inhibited by insufficient vitamin A in the body. Night blindness is usually the first sign of vitamin A deficiency. You can therefore reduce your risk of night blindness by choosing foods rich in vitamin A. It can also be caused by birth defects or genetic diseases, such as Usher syndrome. If you would like to find out what is causing your night blindness, you can schedule an appointment with our optometrist by calling us at (360) 491-2121.
Night Blindness and difficulty driving at night
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

If you find it difficult to see during the night while driving, or if you're seated in a restaurant with low lighting and you can't see much, you might have night blindness. If you notice night blindness, you should seek medical attention right away by visiting us at American Family Vision Clinic, since it may be a sign of serious health problems. You can make an appointment for an eye examination by calling us at (360) 491-2121. Patients with low vision visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of low vision services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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