What Causes Night Blindness (Nyctalopia)?

Nyctalopia is a condition that occurs when an individual has difficulty seeing in poor lighting conditions or during the night. Rather than being a disease on its own, the condition is typically considered a symptom of other underlying disorders. The treatment for night blindness varies depending on its cause. Some treatments are simple, like new medications, vitamin supplements, or a new glasses prescription. If the condition is caused by cataracts or certain other issues, it may necessitate surgery. In rare cases, night blindness can be part of a more serious eye condition that will lead to loss of daytime vision as well.

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Retinitis Pigmentosa


Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder passed from parent to child. Though the condition can be caused by mutations in more than fifty different genes, the disease's progression and results tend to be the same. With this disease, the body is either unable to make, unable to absorb, or creates a toxic version of a protein necessary for the photoreceptors. These cells are located in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue covering the back of a person's eye. Photoreceptors are responsible for absorbing and converting light into electrical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. With retinitis pigmentosa, the lack of protein causes the photoreceptors to function inadequately. Over time, they break down and die. The first symptom tends to be night blindness, followed by a loss of peripheral vision, loss of central vision and the ability to read or do other detailed work, flashes of light, and sensitivity to light.

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Katherine MacAulay