Cats, owls, raccoons, and deer — they’re among the animals with exceptional night vision. We humans aren’t on the list. Our eyes have just a fraction of the same visual machinery needed to see well in the dark, and our limited ability deteriorates with age (see “How our night vision changes”). The resulting poor night vision sets us up for difficulty driving at night or stumbling in a darkened room, which can lead to accidents and injuries.
How can you stay safe? There’s no one medical treatment to restore night vision, but the following approaches can help.
Get regular eye exams. You need a comprehensive eye exam every year or two, depending on your vision. This will identify early signs of eye disease and keep your eyeglasses prescription current. “Uncorrected vision is one of the most common causes of difficulty seeing at night. Often, an updated eyeglasses prescription reduces glare when driving at night,” says Dr. Haley Italia, an optometrist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
Online Nutrition Management CME Course
Developed by Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this is a practical, skill-based course for clinicians treating patients with cardiometabolic disease. Harvard faculty will provide the latest scientific information supporting current guidelines, practical recommendations, and controversies in the field of medical nutrition management for people living with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular and renal diseases. Register by Monday, February 28, 2022 for our early registration discounted price.
Treat underlying conditions. Dry eyes and cataracts (clouding of the lens inside the eye) make it harder to see at night. Treating them should improve night vision.
Keep a flashlight handy. Get a flashlight app on your smartphone or carry a pocket-sized flashlight in case you need help to see where you’re walking.
Turn on the lights. “Consider adding more lamps to brighten your home, and install night lights throughout the house. For reading, I recommend gooseneck lamps, which can be adjusted easily,” Dr. Italia says. Also: keep window shades or blinds open during the day.
Maintain your eyeglasses. Wash lenses regularly, and take them to an optician to buff out small scratches or add anti-reflective coatings that reduce headlight glare.
Keep your windshield and headlights clean. Even a little dirt or dust can make it harder to see the road at night. Get your car washed, and keep windshield washer fluid levels high.
Adapt your night driving. Dim your dashboard lights, which cause glare. Look at right lane markings when oncoming traffic headlights are bothering you. Use the night setting on your rearview mirror. “And use familiar roads and well-lighted streets, which will be easiest to navigate at night,” Dr. Italia suggests.
What if these strategies don’t work? “It could be that you’ll need to limit driving to daytime only,” Dr. Italia says. “It’s inconvenient, but it’s better to be safe.”
|How our night vision changes we need at least a little bit of light (like moonlight) to see in the dark. We also need the ability to make use of that light: the eye collects and focuses the light and sends signals to the brain, which translates the light into images. Age-related changes can affect this process. Here are some examples: We lose certain light-sensitive eye cells (photoreceptors). Very sensitive photoreceptors called rods are essential for night vision. The number of rods in our eyes diminishes with age. Our pupils get smaller. The pupils — small openings that look like black dots — allow light to enter the eyes. The size of the pupil (and amount of light that enters) is controlled by muscles in the iris (the colorful part of the eye). “These muscles weaken with age, making the pupils smaller and allowing less light into the eyes. For this reason, you need more light to see comfortably,” explains Dr. Haley Italia, an optometrist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Our eyes react more slowly to changes in light. At any age, the photoreceptors need time to adjust after we look into bright headlights or when we walk into a dark room from a bright room. In older people, this process takes longer. Our eye lenses get cloudy. “The lens inside each eye goes through microscopic changes over time that ultimately lead to a clouded lens called a cataract. Even the early changes, before there is a cataract, cause light to scatter as it enters the eye, reducing the quality of vision or causing glare around headlights or streetlights,” Dr. Italia notes. Our eyes get drier. We make fewer tears when we’re older, which can irritate the outer surface of the eye (the cornea) and scatter incoming light. “Dry eyes are especially noticeable at the end of the day and can cause glare or blurry vision at night,” Dr. Italia says. Our vision worsens. The quality of vision decreases with age, which can make it harder to see at night. “Even if you’re lucky and have still have 20/20 vision when you’re 70, it probably won’t be as crisp as it was 50 years ago. Your remaining photoreceptors are less densely packed and less able to discern fine detail,” Dr. Italia notes.|
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren’
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12 NIV
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7 NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 NIV
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 NIV
Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study