Harvard Men's Health Watch

What can I do about poor night vision?

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Q. I have trouble seeing clearly at night, especially when I drive. Should I change my glasses, or could it be a more serious eye problem?

A. As people reach age 60 and older, trouble seeing at night becomes a typical issue. The problem could be with your glasses or your eyes. Your eyesight might have changed since you were last fitted with glasses, and the change is noticeable only at night. If so, an updated prescription for new lenses may do the trick. Even if your eyeglass prescription is correct, ask your optometrist to add an antireflective coating to your lens to cut down on the glare of headlights of an oncoming car.

Poor night vision also may be related to a specific eye problem, so see an eye care specialist for a complete eye exam. For instance, dry eye is common as we age. We donít make enough tears, so the cornea (the clear surface at the front of the eye) gets dry and irritated. Artificial tears can often fix the problem, although stronger treatments are sometimes necessary. You also could be developing cataracts, another reason for diminished night vision. The lenses inside the eyes become cloudy and less light gets to the back of the eye. Today, surgery to remove cataracts has become routine.

ó by Howard LeWine, M.D.Editor in Chief, Harvard Menís Health Watch

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