Poor Night Vision: What Can You Do?

night visionPoor night vision or night blindness can be a life-limiting symptom. Night blindness can be caused by either an inherited or acquired reason. Poor night vision disorders (night blindness, impaired dark adaptation, etc.) include the experience of reduced vision in dimly lit environments, including at night. They include partial or complete impairment in ability of the eyes to adapt from brightness to darkness. It is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem, usually located in the retina. It is common for patients who are myopic (nearsighted) to have some difficulties with night vision, but this is due to optical issues rather than to a retinal condition. Symptoms include difficulty driving at night, tripping over objects when walking in the dark, and slow response when light conditions change (such as entering a dark movie theater). Photoreceptor cells in the retina allow you to see in dim lighting. When they malfunction, vision in dark conditions becomes difficult.

The photoreceptors called “rod cells” are mainly responsible for night vision. Rods can detect single photons and transmit that data to rod bipolar cells. This makes dim light information more usable to the brain.

Acquired Causes of Poor Night Vision

Vitamin A Deficiency. Poor night vision affects more people in other areas of the world than the U.S. because of wide-ranging vitamin A deficiencies in undeveloped nations. In America, it is a rare disease that affects less than 200,000 people. Vitamin A is required to make the chemical rhodopsin, crucial to night vision. Dietary deficiency of Vitamin A is uncommon in developed countries. Proper absorption is key. Iron or zinc deficiency, small bowel bypass surgery, and too much alcohol can impair Vitamin A absorption. Inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic issues, and fibrosis can cause Vitamin A issues. Low fat diets may not have enough vitamin A. Many orange, yellow, and dark leafy green foods are rich in beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. People with thyroid issues may have difficulty in converting beta carotene into Vitamin A as well. Note: Vitamin A deficiencies need early treatment or vision damage can be permanent.

Cataracts. Cloudy spots on the lens obscure vision.

Myopia (nearsightedness). A symptom of uncorrected myopia can result in night blindness.

Medications. If a glaucoma medication side-effect is pupil constriction, night vision can be compromised.

Other diseases and conditions. Cystic fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, gastric bypass, celiac disease, obstruction of the bile duct (gallstones), and diabetes can reduce night vision.

Congenital Causes of Poor Night Vision

Genetics. Inherited genetic mutations can cause night blindness.

Retinitis Pigmentosa. Genetic problems result in damage to the retina, impairing night vision, as well as central and peripheral vision. Usher syndrome results in hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa.

How Night Blindness Is Diagnosed

severity of poor night visionContrary to popular belief, night blindness cannot be self-diagnosed. The biggest danger is driving at night. Injuries are likely when walking in insufficient light. Therefore, anyone who is concerned about their night vision should consult an eye doctor.

The eye doctor will run several painless tests to measure pupil adaptation, your ability to see color, and visual acuity. The doctor will also apply dilating drops and examine most of the structures of the eye.

You may need an electroretinogram to measure how your rods and cones react to light. The doctor may order visual field testing if the cause might be glaucoma, another eye disease, or stroke. He or she may also order an OCT (optical coherence tomography) scan which gives a detailed view of the layers of the retina and optic nerve, and provides a baseline to compare in future scans.

You should be having regular eye exams regardless. Ask your eye doctor if you suspect night vision problems.


Poor night vision will not resolve itself. Clean your windshield and glasses in case it is just glare. Consult an eye doctor.

Standard Treatments for Poor Night Vision

The primary treatment for night blindness depends on the cause.

If the cause of night blindness is congenital, regular care from an eye care specialist is crucial. The condition is life-long. Do whatever is necessary prevent injuries at night and in dark basements, caves, etc. The doctor may tell your state Department of Motor Vehicles to add a “daylight driving only” restriction to your driver’s license, for the safety of yourself and others.

Acquired night blindness treatment depends on the cause.

  • Cataracts (moderate to mature) are typically treated thru surgery by replacing them with an artificial lens. If you need to delay surgery for medical reasons for example, see our cataracts page. Early stage cataracts may still impact night vision (particularly due to glare at night), so there are natural approaches that may help with this.
  • Myopia can be treated with the right prescription lenses.
  • Vitamin A deficiency or malabsorption reacts well to a better diet and supplements. Sometimes the doctor can change a problematic medication.
  • Glaucoma patients may do better on a different medication.
  • Attempt to better control other conditions or diseases if they are causing night blindness.

In the future, stem cell therapy may provide relief for night blindness.

Poor Night Vision and Nutrients

    • Rhodopsin. One key to seeing at night is a healthy amount of rhodopsin, which is an eye pigment in the retina responsible for night vision. It is used specifically by the photoreceptor cone cells to perceive light, while the rods, on the other hand, are highly sensitive to darkness. Rhodopsin enables us to quickly adapt our vision from a dark room to a light room. The dark purple color of bilberries comes in part from rhodopsin and bilberry supplements improve poor night vision patients’ rate of adapting to darkness.1
    • Vitamin A activates rhodopsin and increases photoceptor sensitivity to UV light.2 Though vitamin A deficiency is rare in industrial nations, there are other reasons vitamin A intake may be compromised, including:
      • Iron deficiency can affect vitamin A uptake.
      • Small-bowel bypass surgery may reduce vitamin A absorption.
      • Excess alcohol consumption impairs absorption.
      • Medications can affect fat absorption (Xenical) or cholesterol (statins).
      • Low fat diets may be low in vitamin A.
      • Zinc deficiency is associated with decreased release of vitamin A from the liver.
      • Other conditions such as fibrosis, pancreatic insufficiency, and inflammatory bowel disease affect how vitamin A is utilized in the body.
    • Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the retina.  It helps rhodopsin regenerate, a crucial process for night vision. It’s lack causes cone degeneration.3 The amino acid taurine is produced by the body, and it is abundant in high-protein animal foods such as milk, eggs, seafoods, and meat. Ten times more taurine is in the photoreceptors than any other amino acid.
    • Zinc is also important for night vision.  It interacts with taurine and vitamin A to modify photoreceptor plasma membranes, regulate the light-rhodopsin reaction, acts as an antioxidant, and supports the retina and retinal pigment epithelium.4

Also Important

  • Astaxanthin. The antioxidant astaxanthin is the pink color in certain seafood and certain algae. A champion eye nutrient, astaxanthin protects the cells and support eye circulation, and helps protect the eyes against sunlight and blue light exposure from mobile and other electronic devices.
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Found abundantly in certain vegetables and egg yolks, lutein and zeaxanthin together are a powerful eye protection combination. Important food sources: dark leafy greens, zucchini, peas, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, and pistachios. Lutein and zeaxanthin help the eyes by filtering out blue light and protecting healthy eye cells. Although there are 600 carotenoids in nature, the retina uses these two the most. Only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye.
  • Omega-3. Insufficient omega-3 fatty acids are wide-spread. However, these nutrients are important for healthy rod cells. Food sources include certain seafood (salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, herring, mackerel, oysters, anchovies, caviar), walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans.
  • Other night-vision-friendly nutrients include zinc, green tea extract, ginkgo biloba, and vitamin B complex.

Poor Night Vision and Diet

Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, any colored fruits and vegetables, limit or avoid all sugar and refined carbohydrates, include healthy oils such as first cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter in limited amounts. Butter and coconut oils are good for cooking as they have a high heat threshold.

Make fresh, organic, ideally home-made juice. Include fruits, vegetables, and some of: ginger, garlic, parsley, turnips, spinach, blueberries, beets, carrots, watercress, and wheatgrass.

Nutritional Support Recommendations

Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula (whole food) 60 vcaps

Dr. Grossman’s Bilberry/Ginkgo Combination 2oz (60ml)

ReVision Formula (wild-crafted herbal formula) 2 oz

Discounts: Night Vision Protocol 1-Month Supply or Night Vision Protocol 3-Month Supply



  1. Chu, W.C., Cheung, S.C.M., Lau, R.A.W., Benzie, I.F.F. (2011).Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 4 Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
  2. Miyazono S, Isayama T, Delori FC, Makino CL. (2011). Vitamin A activates rhodopsin and sensitizes it to ultraviolet light. Vis Neurosci. Nov;28(6):485-97.
  3. Imaki H, Jacobson SG, Kemp CM, Knighton RW, Neuringer M, et al. (1993). Retinal morphology and visual pigment levels in 6- and 12-month-old rhesus monkeys fed a taurine-free human infant formula. J Neurosci Res. Oct 15;36(3):290-304.
  4. Grahn BH, Paterson PG, Gottschall-Pass KT, Zhang Z. (2001). Zinc and the Eye. J Am Coll Nutr. Apr;20(2 Suppl):106-18.