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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

How Night Vision Changes with Age?

As we grow older, we notice various changes in our eyes. One of the prominent signs of aging is the night vision shift and the worsening of eyesight in low-light conditions. Read on to understand how night vison changes with age and what it means for our daily lives.

The Science of Seeing in the Dark

To understand how night vision changes with age, we must first grasp how we see in the dark.

Our eyes have two types of cells responsible for vision: cones and rods.

  1. Cones excel in detecting colors and fine details in well-lit environments

  2. Rods are crucial for night vision, as they are sensitive to low light levels

The rods, scattered across the retina, are sensitive to even the faintest glimmers of light. And that's how we can navigate through the night with relative ease.

Yet, with aging, these cells deteriorate.

This age-related deterioration may be part of the normal aging process like losing the ability to focus near objects with age (presbyopia), gradually impairing the ability to distinguish objects in low-light. So tasks which once seemed effortless under the cover of darkness, such as reading a menu in a dim-lit restaurant or walking dark paths, become more challenging.

Progressive deterioration of night vision can be a symptom of eye diseases such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, or macular degeneration.

If you notice a progressive deterioration of night vision you should contact your eye doctor.

The aging process also affects the pupils' ability to dilate. With the pupils unable to expand as wide as they once could - less light enters the eye, therefore exacerbating the struggle to see well at night or in dark settings.

Glare and Night Vision Changes with Age

Changes in Night Vision with Age

1. Longer Adjustment Time

Older adults may notice it takes their eyes longer to adjust from bright to dark settings and vice versa.

Reasons for the changes in dark adaptation are lower responsiveness of the rod cells and other age-related changes in the retina.

2. Reduced Contrast Sensitivity

Contrast sensitivity also diminishes with age. So it becomes harder to tell apart objects from their backgrounds at night or in dim lighting.

Losing the ability to distinguish between subtle light and dark shades makes recognizing faces and reading road signs at night more challenging.

3. Increased Glare Sensitivity

The aging cornea and lens become less clear. That allows more scattering light inside the eye and increasing sensitivity to glare.

Glare sensitivity is the reason older people have a hard time driving at night. All the street lights, reflective road signs and headlights, can be too much. Glare poses significant safety risks, impairing driving performance and increasing the likelihood of accidents.

4. Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome occurs in mature individuals because tear production decreases with age.

Aside from the irritation, dry eyes also have a negative effect on night vision. People with the condition experience blurriness, glare, and visual discomfort during nighttime activities.

How to Cope with a Deteriorating Night Vision?

Those are doctor-approved steps to adapt to age-related night vision changes:

  • Ensure your living spaces are well-lit at night

  • Limit night driving and stick to driving at daytime

  • Employ contrasting colors in your environment to improve object visibility

  • For dry eyes, use artificial tears to keep your eyes moist

  • Add anti-glare coatings to your eyeglasses (if you wear eyeglasses)

  • Limit alcohol consumption, as it can worsen night vision difficulties

  • Keep up with regular eye check-ups to monitor vision changes

Incorporate these night vision tips into your daily routine to maintain independence and quality of life as you age.

If your night vision difficulties persist or worsen despite taking preventive measures, consult an ophthalmologist for further advice and personalized treatment.

Night vision changes are a natural part of aging, but they don’t have to impact your quality of life. Take proactive measures to preserve your independence and continue to enjoy activities after dark.


Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.


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