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Problems With Vision

If your poor night vision is associated with dryness of the eyes, poor appetite, loose yellow stools and/or muscle weakness, you may have a digestive disease in which nutrients and vitamins are not properly absorbed (called malabsorption). Examples of these digestive problems include Crohn's disease, celiac sprue and diverticulosis.

If you have "night blindness" without these other symptoms or other major medical problems, you might be one of many people with this problem in the absence of any other eye problem or medical disease. Isolated vitamin A deficiency can cause poor night vision but it is rare in the United States. Treatment of vitamin A deficiency includes increased dietary sources of the vitamin (such as whole milk, liver, carrots, spinach, other green vegetables, and fortified foods like skim milk and cereals) and/or by taking supplemental vitamin A (total daily allowance is 900 mcg for men, 700 mcg for women -- recommended amounts vary for children and for pregnant or lactating women). But, it's also important to avoid getting too much of this vitamin because "hypervitaminosis A" (an overdose of vitamin A) can cause liver injury, osteoporosis and birth defects.

Finally, poor night vision may be an early sign of retinitis pigmentosa, an unusual and sometimes inherited disease of the retina, the nerve-rich area at the back of the eye that transmits light signals to the brain.

To investigate these possibilities, contact your doctor for evaluation.


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