Nyctalopia (a.k.a. Night Blindness)

What you can expect to find on this Tackk:

  • A description of the disease
  • The stage of the lifecycle when this disease typically occurs
  • What nutrient(s) are responsible for the disease
  • What are the deficiency symptoms if there is a lack of the nutrient(s) AND/OR what are the symptoms if there is an excess of the nutrient(s)
  • What the treatments for this are and how successful are they
  • How to prevent the nutrition related disease
  • What foods should a person ensure they are getting enough of AND/OR what foods should a person be avoiding
  • What are the Dietary Reference Intakes for the nutrient(s) in question
  • Where & why it exists today

The nutrition related disease that I am researching is Nyctalopia, most commonly referred to as Night Blindness. Night blindness is when a person cannot, or has difficulty, seeing in the dark. This can also include dim lighting. Night blindness makes transitioning vision from bright lights to dim lights tough.

LIFECYCLE STAGE

There is no official stage in the lifecycle in which Nyctalopia occurs. It may be present from birth, or be caused due to an injury to the eye, cataracts or deficiency of certain nutrients (such as Vitamin A). However, in children, early stages can be corrected by taking Vitamin A supplements. But when it comes to Nyctalopia occurring due to aging, it most likely strikes a person who is around or over the age of 40. Elderly people are more prone to have cataracts, which is one of the leading causes of Nyctalopia.

This picture shows the difference between a normal eye and an eye with Nyctalopia. In this case, you can visibly see that cataracts are clouding the lens, which is one of the causes of Nyctalopia.

CAUSES

Nearsightedness: blurred vision when looking at faraway objects (Selner, 2012)

Cataracts: a clouding of the eye’s lens (Selner, 2012)

Retinitis Pigmentosa: when dark pigment collects in your retina, creating tunnel vision (Selner, 2012)

Usher Syndrome: a genetic condition that affects both hearing and vision (Selner, 2012)

NUTRIENT(S) RESPONSIBLE

Deficiency of the following nutrients and minerals can be held responsible for Nyctalopia:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Essential fatty acids (Vitamin F)
  • Anthocyanidins

Vitamin A

Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency. Other symptoms can also include trouble seeing (which can eventually result in total blindness if not treated properly & quickly).

Excessive intake and toxicity symptoms of vitamin A (StorkNet, 2014):

  • liver damage (StorkNet, 2014)
  • nausea & vomiting (StorkNet, 2014)
  • alopecia (hair absent from where it normally grows; baldness) (StorkNet, 2014)
  • headache (StorkNet, 2014)
  • joint pain (StorkNet, 2014)
  • dry skin & hair, cracked lips (StorkNet, 2014)
  • loss of appetite (StorkNet, 2014)
  • birth defects (StorkNet, 2014)

Getting too much preformed vitamin A (usually from supplements or certain medicines) can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma, and even death (Coates, 2013).

B Vitamins

Deficiency symptoms:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or light-headedness (Ratini, 2014)
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing (Ratini, 2014)
  • Pale skin (Ratini, 2014)
  • Sore tongue (Ratini, 2014)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums (Ratini, 2014)
  • Stomach upset and weight loss (Ratini, 2014)
  • Diarrhea or constipation (Ratini, 2014)

If you think you have B vitamin(s) deficiency symptoms, you can ask your doctor for a blood test to check on that (Ratini, 2014).

Excessive intake and toxicity symptoms of B vitamins (StorkNet, 2014):

  • Nerve toxicity (Weil, 2014)
  • Nausea and vomiting (Weil, 2014)
  • Jaundice (Weil, 2014)
  • Elevated liver enzymes (Weil, 2014)

The table below outlines the different B vitamins, their names, and diseases that can be caused due to deficiencies in those vitamins.

Vitamin C

Deficiency symptoms:

  • Fatigue (Fitday, 2012)
  • Mood changes (Fitday, 2012)
  • Weight loss (Fitday, 2012)
  • Joint and muscle aches (Fitday, 2012)
  • Bruising (Fitday, 2012)
  • Dental conditions (Fitday, 2012)
  • Dry hair & skin (Fitday, 2012)
  • Infections (immune system weakens) (Fitday, 2012)

Excessive intake and toxicity symptoms of vitamin C (StorkNet, 2014):

  • Diarrhea (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Nausea (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Vomiting (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Heartburn (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Abdominal bloating and cramps (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Headache (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Insomnia (Zeratsky, 2012)
  • Kidney stones (Zeratsky, 2012)

Vitamin E

Deficiency symptoms include neuromuscular problems such as:

  • spinocerebellar ataxia (Brigelius-Flohé & Traber, 1999)
  • myopathies (Brigelius-Flohé & Traber, 1999)
  • dysarthria (Brigelius-Flohé & Traber, 1999)
  • absence of deep tendon reflexes (Brigelius-Flohé & Traber, 1999)
  • loss of vibratory sensation and proprioception (Brigelius-Flohé & Traber, 1999)

Excessive intake and toxicity symptoms of vitamin E (StorkNet, 2014):

  • increased hemorrhage (EatingWell, 2014)
  • impaired blood clotting (EatingWell, 2014)

TREATMENT

Treatment for Nyctalopia depends on the severity of its case (Wachler, 2013).

  • It can be as simple as taking vitamin A supplements
  • A change in someone’s eyeglasses prescription  (Wachler, 2013)
  • Switching glaucoma drugs (Wachler, 2013)
  • If the night blindness is caused by cataracts, surgery may be required
  • Low-vision aids

*Over 90 % of cataract surgeries are successful in reforming useful vision (University of Illinois Eye Center, 2006)

*99% of cataract surgeries are successful

*If an eye disease or genetics are the cause, Nyctalopia may be more difficult to treat, or in some cases, untreatable (Calder-Cardwell, 2014).

PREVENTION

  • Make sure your intake of the vitamins is the required amount; no more, no less
  • Exercise and eat healthy to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • See a doctor as soon as any trouble seeing at night, or in dim light, occurs

WHAT FOODS TO EAT

Eat food that contains Vitamins A, B, C, and E. Also, look for food that contains zinc and/or selenium.

Vitamin A Foods

Vitamin B Foods

Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin E Foods

Zinc Foods

Selenium Foods

WHAT FOODS TO AVOID

Avoid eating too much sugary food because it causes diabetes and diabetes highly affects your vision. Also, avoid/quit smoking because it makes you more vulnerable to get cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration, which can all cause Nyctalopia.

DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKES

VITAMIN A DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

B VITAMINS DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

VITAMIN C DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

VITAMIN E DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

ZINC DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

SELENIUM DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKE TABLE

NYCTALOPIA TODAY

Nyctalopia is a disease that will always be around. Due to genetics being one of the causes of Nyctalopia, it can be carried on for generations. Furthermore, everyone ages, and while aging, the probability of getting cataracts increases, also increasing the likelihood of getting Nyctalopia.

Comment Stream