Why Can’t I See at Night?

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Ever notice that the same route you take every day suddenly becomes a little bit harder to navigate while driving at night? You’re not alone. It can be hard to see at night.

Why is it so much harder to see at night than during the day?

“Yes, it’s dark at night, but you’re operating under low light conditions which will cause your pupils to dilate,” said Mei Fleming, VSP network eye doctor. “All of a sudden you get an influx of headlights or street lamps which can make it harder to see.”

According to Dr. Fleming, while many of us have difficulty seeing at night, those who have unusual difficulty may be experiencing night blindness (nyctalopia). Contrary to its name, night blindness is not a complete lack of vision at night. Rather, it’s a symptom of an underlying cause such as:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Cataracts
  • Certain medications
  • Hereditary
  • Nutritional deficiencies

So, what should you do if you’re having trouble seeing at night?

To determine what’s causing your night blindness, you should start with a comprehensive eye exam by your VSP network eye doctor. During the exam your eye doctor will check for a variety of health conditions and look for the cause of your night blindness. In some cases, your eye doctor might recommend special eyeglass lenses like those treated with an anti-reflective coating, or lenses that have been designed and tinted to reduce glare and nighttime blindness.

47 Comments

  • Joyce Boyt says:

    Why would an article about eyesight problems be printed in such small type that I can’t be easily read by those who need to read it?

    • Terri says:

      It is awfully small isn’t it? I have an VSP Eye Doctor that I’m seriously thinking of changing. I feel with my autoimmune issues, dry eye, dry mouth, working in a cleanroom where it’s even dryer and harder on my eyes….Anyway, I reached out to him in regards to my work environment, trying to transfer out of the very place that causes me the greatest discomfort…he was no help. Dragged his feet in responding with a lame note that wasn’t worded professionally and ended up getting my request for transfer denied.

      • Micheal says:

        Try opening this on your computer sir or ma’am

      • Sandi says:

        Did you see a Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist? The 1st is a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy and is licensed by the state to practice medicine & perform surgery. Just like a primary care provider. The 2nd is an eye care provider who is licensed by the state to perform eye exams, determine the cause of vision related issues and prescribe eye glasses/contacts. For a medical based transfer, you would need a medical order from the 1st and maybe something from your primary care provider. I would check with your HR to find out if you need one or both. I hope this helps.

        • Joanne B. says:

          Even though I did not write in with the first request for information I just wanted to comment on how thoughtful it was for “Sandi” to write in with helpful ideas for “Terri” to try to get somewhere with her issue. It’s nice to know there are still helpful people out there with nothing to gain by simply reaching out to help! We need more people like Sandi…

      • Lekingsley says:

        Maybe go to an actual opthamologist about your eyes and work situation and see if you can get better help in getting a new transfer.

      • Amanda says:

        Just curious, what autoimmune were you diagnosed with? I recently had cataract surgery; found out I had an autoimmune causing dry eye, etc. I have struggled with my vision ever since. Due to my dry eyes, I see worse than I did prior to surgery.

        • Dolores says:

          Same here esp in low light and night time, Amanda. And yes, it got worse after cataract surgery. I have the autoimmune disease sjogrens and RA.

          • Amanda says:

            Wow, that is what I was told. I know it cannot be cured, however, have you found something that lessons or alleviates the symptoms? At age 32, I had never heard of such a thing, and apparently neither did my ophthalmologist…or he did not recognize it at the time of my pre exam.

          • Dolores Carter says:

            Not really! Try using drops in the morning and night. Do you get pain with the dryness. I do,
            very painful at times.

          • Amanda Cabral says:

            It’s not painful, I didn’t even know I had it until I had an issue seeing clear after the surgery. The opthamologist has given me all differ6ent eye drops. However, the only thing that really works is omega 3-6-9 and flaxseed oil softgels

          • Dolores says:

            I also have tried numerous drops and nothing helps. How often do you take the supplements(omega 3-6-9 and flaxseed oil softgels) ? Thanks!!

    • Merla says:

      Very good question. I think the same thing. We need to have VSP respond back.

    • Jessie says:

      If you just press Ctrl on your keyboard, you can scroll any page to make the text larger or smaller. I have the same problem with tiny fonts.

    • Joel Friedman says:

      Type size shouldn’t be a problem when reading articles on websites. Increase type size yourself by hitting Option-+ on a Mac and (probably) CTRL-+ on a Windows device. The type size increases each time you hit that key combination–make it as big as you want it. If you’re on a tablet, each one works differently, I think. Google “change type size on my [name of tablet]” to find out how to do it on yours.

      • J. A. A. says:

        Thanks!!! The control+ works on my Acer.

      • Cindy says:

        I did know this – worked like a charm. Note to other ‘non-techs’, you have to highlight the copy to be increased/decreased! (First time I tried to increase, nothing happened b/c I didn’t highlight

    • Sherry Ewy says:

      No kidding!

    • Linda English says:

      the “small print” is the result of your computer/laptop settings. I am happy to help you increase the size of print if you can tell me what browser & email server you use.

    • Kim Fenske says:

      I am viewing this article on my desktop computer, so I am able to enlarge the font. However, I agree that far too many publications; directions and nutritional information on food and drug packages; public transit schedules; and other important bills and notices are printed in 10-point or less. Our society has not adjusted to support an aging population of visually-challenged members.

  • S. Meric says:

    Surprised that your list of causes did not include retinal problems. I have not only stopped driving at night, but don’t see wellat home and elsewhere in low light. My retinal specialist said retina can shrink with age (therefore admitting less light?)

    • Tammy Allen says:

      I think that’s what my eye doctor told me a few years ago. He said the tube transmitting light narrows with age.

      • Sherry Ewy says:

        I only have a phone, no computer. I already can’t see to drive at night😢. I think I’m in trouble!

  • C J says:

    If you hold down the ‘Ctrl’ button and scroll your mouse wheel forward it increases the size of the words on your screen.

  • g swartz says:

    I had glare problems at night and the opthamologist said cataract surgery might help that problem, but wasn’t nrecessary immediately. I elected to move forward.It was nuch improved for several years but then I suffered a fully detached retina which can result from cataract surgery, but I don’t kow if that was the primary cause. Catract surgery should be abvoided if possible in my opinion.

  • greg says:

    What happened to my comment. I thought it was domething to consider. I didn’t receive a proper warning.

  • Estelle says:

    Pressing Control key and the + or – at the same time on your keyboard will enlarge or make smaller the fonts any website.

  • Julie says:

    I’m surprised the article didn’t mention astigmatism since most people have some degree of it, even in patients with otherwise healthy eyes. I understand that even mild astigmatism can contribute to difficulty with night vision by making headlights and other environmental lights seem like they have halos around them or generally just having more glare.

  • Jo Ann Bakzer says:

    What do I do when I need eye surgery but insurance refuses to pay for it? I have paid into this insurance for 36 years.

  • Laurel says:

    Add floaters to the list of problems seeing at night!

  • Linda says:

    Thanks for the tip regarding the Ctrl key to enlarge or reduce keyboard font, I’m using it now!

  • Dan says:

    The article is about night vision, not print size. Are you reading this article at night?

  • Kathy Deyulio says:

    Curious that an article about night blindness doesn’t suggest anything but see your doctor. Not useful

  • Doug W. says:

    Read all the comments and suggestions about night vision and small webpage type and will try not to be redundant.
    The most important of the two is the night vision, the other is just nice to know. Research your meds (internet or the info sheets that come with the Rx. To assist with finding out what might be causes (or making worse the vision issue) look at the info sheets portion that gets into side effects. Not any that mention sight issues. List them and discuss with the doctors that prescribed at your next visit. If going to a Doc-In-The-Box attempt to do the same or talk to a pharmacist. Considering having med RX changes if too many indicate sight issues. I made a spread sheet of all my meds shown one way and all the possible issues shown the other way and checked of in the various blocks all that applied to each medication. It indicated a lot and helped with a discussion with my Doc.

    As to text size the Control ‘C’ strolling is temp of the type size but works great when needed along with the magnification feature in many programs. Another way for a permanent fix is to change your type setting. If using IE then look for the 3 dots in the upper righthand side, click on this and a menu appears. One of the selections is Zoom. Change it anyway you want as indicated and exit – info (all – pics and text) on your screen will be larger or smaller dependent on your selected setting. If you then exit your system and later turn it back-on the last setting size will come up. To undo, either before or after a system restart, go back to the ‘3 dots menu and reset Zoom to where you want it.

    Also, the slanted arrow on to the right on the Zoom feature will provide you full screen viewing of any webpage. But, so you do not panic, read the comment at the bottom and remember it to get back to full screen while still in your current internet session. Please this was put together fast, so if anyone sees a problem with what is stated – provide the correction. Again, this is with use of IE and Windows.

  • Matt says:

    I have eyeglass lenses treated with an anti-reflective coating, and that have been designed and tinted to reduce glare. I still have severe night blindness.
    This article was a waste of time to read.

  • Tricia Taylor says:

    VSP doesn’t cover the cost of the exam I’m taking next week about this.

  • Thomas J Getz says:

    Dr. Fleming lists “Nutritional deficiencies” as one of the underlying causes of difficulty seeing at night. Please provide more information on that cause. What nutrients? Is it reversible? Treatable? Thank you.

  • Thank You for this post! Very educational and easy to understand. Definitely sharing:)

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