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General Medical Questions
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Question : I have trouble seeing things clearly at night. Should I change my glasses, or could it be a more serious eye problem?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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February 19, 2014
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As people reach age 60 and older, trouble seeing at night is a common problem. The problem could be with your glasses, or with your eyes.

First, your glasses. Since you last were fitted for glasses, your correction might have changed. Because there’s less light at night, the fact that your prescription is outdated can be more apparent at night than during the day.

Even if the correction of your glasses is right, adding an antireflective coating to the glasses can cut down the glare of bright lights (like from the headlights of an oncoming car).

Now, your eyes. A common problem as we get older is dry eye. We don’t make enough tears. So, the cornea (the outer surface of the eye) gets dry and irritated. Regularly using artificial tears can often fix the problem. Stronger treatments may sometimes be necessary.

Cataracts are another relatively common cause of trouble with night vision. If you have cataracts, the lenses inside your eye are no longer completely clear. Fortunately, surgery to remove foggy lenses is simple and successful these days.

Finally, the back of the eye — the retina — may have a problem. One of the more common problems is macular degeneration. The central part of the retina, called the macula, loses the ability to focus images causing vision loss.

See an eye care specialist. He or she can give you a complete eye exam. And help find ways to improve your night vision.

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