By Yelena Sapin
Trouble seeing at night, especially while driving, is most often the first symptom of age-related eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, says Louisville ophthalmologist Rishi Kumar, MD, of Kumar Eye Institute. The problem can also be caused by dry eyes, a condition that tends to become worse toward the end of the day. Changes in the eye’s ability to focus as we age can also make it more difficult to see in dim lighting. “The pupil dilates when it’s dark,” says Kumar, “and that can induce a bit of nearsightedness at night.”
Solution: Get Your Eyes Checked In addition to making sure your vision correction prescription is up to date, regular eye exams and screenings can help detect early signs of eye disease and get you started on treatment. Your doctor can also prescribe medication for dry eye or suggest over-the-counter lubricating drops to help maintain the film of tears that protects and lubricates the surface of the eye. “Having a healthy smooth tear film is one of the most important elements of focusing light in our eye,” Kumar says.
Solution: Practice Healthy Eye Habits Ask your eye doctor about daily multivitamins or supplements that can benefit eye health. To prevent or alleviate dry eye symptoms, limit your screen time and take frequent breaks. “Blinking is our natural tear pump,” says Kumar, “but we don’t blink as much when we’re sitting in front of the computer or staring at a screen.” Finally, don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke as it has been shown to accelerate the formation of cataracts and the progression of macular degeneration.