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Night Blindness

People with night blindness (also called impaired dark adaptation) see poorly in the darkness but see normally when adequate amounts of light are present. The condition does not actually involve true blindness, even at night.

Rating Nutritional Supplements Herbs
Vitamin A
Zinc (for deficiency)


Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.


What are the symptoms of night blindness?
Symptoms include difficulty seeing when driving in the evening or at night, poor vision in reduced light, and feeling that the eyes take longer to “adjust” to seeing in the dark.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for night blindness
Night blindness may be an early sign of vitamin A deficiency. Such a deficiency may result from diets low in animal foods (the main source of vitamin A), such as eggs, dairy products, organ meats, and some fish. Low intake of fruits and vegetables containing beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, may also contribute to a vitamin A deficiency. Doctors often recommend 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day to correct a deficiency. Beta-carotene is less effective at correcting vitamin A deficiency than is vitamin A itself, because it is not absorbed as well and is only slowly converted by the body into vitamin A.

Dietary zinc deficiency is common, and a lack of zinc may reduce the activity of retinol dehydrogenase, an enzyme needed to help vitamin A work in the eye. Zinc helps night blindness in people who are zinc-deficient;1 therefore, many physicians suggest 15 to 30 mg of zinc per day to support healthy vision. Because long-term zinc supplementation may reduce copper levels, 1 to 2 mg of copper per day (depending on the amount of zinc used) is usually recommended for people who are supplementing with zinc for more than a few weeks.

Are there any side effects or interactions with night blindness?
Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful for night blindness
Bilberry, a close relative of the blueberry, is high in flavonoids known as anthocyanosides. Anthocyanosides speed the regeneration of rhodopsin, the purple pigment that is used by the rods in the eye for night vision.2 Supplementation with bilberry has been shown in early studies to improve dark adaptation in people with poor night vision.3 4 However, two newer studies found no effect of bilberry on night vision in healthy people.5 6 Bilberry extract standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides may be taken in capsule or tablet form. Doctors typically recommend 240 to 480 mg per day.

Are there any side effects or interactions with night blindness?
Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.