Night Vision and Macular Degeneration

Night Vision and Macular Degeneration

As you age you’ll begin to realize that it may become more difficult to see at night. This can be particularly challenging while driving. Although it seems like a normal progression, research is showing how this struggle could possibly be an indication of early macular degeneration development. Learn about the signs, symptoms and possible fixes of night vision and how it may help you avoid or slow down macular degeneration.

Dangers in Darkness

For those over 50 years old, navigating darkness could take adaptation at first and then steady focus to stay on course. This is mostly due to the natural degeneration of your ocular rods which are abundant in the macular. These rods are essential photoreceptors responsible for painting vision in low-light situations. When fewer rods are functioning it can cause a significant struggle to get through low light scenarios and can negatively affect your ability to drive a vehicle

According to a research report by Harvard Medical School,

“Roadway crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities among older workers in the United States; safety officials say that poor night vision could be partly to blame. And a certain — if unspecified — number of falls and stumbles at home are probably related to the inability of the older eye to pierce the gloom.”

Research now shows how these low functioning rods during night vision may also be an indication of AMD (age-related macular degeneration) development.

Studying the Rods

According to a report posted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology titled,“What Might Declining Night Vision Mean for AMD Patients?”, it was stated that,

“Earlier studies had shown that loss of photoreceptor (light sensitive) cells, particularly “rod” cells involved in night vision, occurs before the disease progresses to advanced AMD in the retina, which indicated that assessing night vision might be a good way to track AMD progression.”

In the cohort study, ‘Complications of Age-related Macular Degeneration Prevention Trial’ (CAPT) which consisted of 1,052 patients  and was published in the journal Ophthalmology, it was concluded that,

“These results are consistent with the biological and psychological findings that rod photoreceptor degeneration precedes cone degeneration in early age-related macular degeneration, and that rod dysfunction may contribute to the later degeneration of cones because of their interdependence,” 

If you’re struggling with night vision more than usual, make sure you get an eye checkup. It could be your body giving you a clue to AMD development. If this is the case, early detection is paramount in slowing the disease and giving you many more years of sight than you wouldn’t have if you ignore the signs. Through specific supplemental formulas, dietary changes and vision  assistance you may be able to reduce your night vision challenges while strengthening your aging macula. 

Coping with Night Vision

It is important to take some steps to increase your night vision capability as well as boost your macula functioning. By doing this you could put yourself ahead of the curve when it comes to your future sight. 

Include CBD Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil (derived from the male, hemp, marijuana plant) has recently become very popular ever since it has been legally released on to the open, mainstream market. This oil, which contains minimal, non-active amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the mind altering substance found in traditional marijuana, is being used for conditions such as: pain, anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, muscle pain and depression. Now, past research shows that it may help night vision as well. As reported in The Guardian, traditional marijuana (cannabis) has been linked to improving night vision, 

“25 years ago, pharmacologist M. E. West of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, noted that local fisherman who smoke cannabis or drink rum made with the leaves and stems of the plant had “an uncanny ability to see in the dark,” 

Experts believe that the same night vision improving compounds found in cannabis can be applied when taking CBD.

Sunglasses at Night

It used to be that people who didn’t shut off their car high beams while traveling at night put everyone else at risk of being temporary blinded leading to potential accidents. Now, headlight LED (light emitting diode) headlight technology has made many cars on the road continued threats without high beams being turned on. Not only do these LED lights cause blinding but the piercing white light can also contribute to the development of macular degeneration.

According to a research paper published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine it was stated that,

“Aging and alteration of the functions of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are at the origin of lost of vision seen in age‐related macular degeneration (AMD). The RPE is known to be vulnerable to high‐energy blue light. The white light‐emitting diodes (LED) commercially available have relatively high content of blue light, a feature that suggest that they could be deleterious for this retinal cell layer…At the molecular level, analyses revealed an increase of oxidative stress followed by cell death by necrosis, a rare event in this type of tissue.”

Some people report that the yellow or amber tinted glasses help them navigate and avoid LED light blindness while driving at night. Studies do not corroborate this however, if you feel it works give it a try however remain vigilant as sometimes these tinted glasses can reduce reaction time. 

Healthline offers this list of ways you can enhance your night vision while driving:

  • Keep your eyeglass prescription up to date by getting regular checkups.
  • Ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist about getting an antireflective coating on your prescription eyeglasses.
  • Smudges can amplify glare, wipe your eyeglasses down with an eyeglass cloth before driving.
  • Make sure your windshield is clean, inside and out, dirt streaks and dust can amplify glare.
  • Replace your windshield wipers regularly.
  • Keep dashboard lights dim, to avoid eye strain while night driving.
  • Keep your headlights clean and free of grime.
  • See an eye doctor if your vision changes or seems to deteriorate at night.


Stay vigilant with a good AREDS2 (age-related eye disease study) supplemental protocol. This is a well studied formula that has shown great benefits in strengthening the macula. It includes a combination of compounds which have been linked to anti-inflammation and increases rod functioning. This formula can be found at health food stores or online.

Night vision and macular degeneration is another clue to ways you can avoid this blinding disease. Hopefully you will stay ahead of the curve and keep your sight running on all cylinders for years to come.