While bad night vision can be a genetic condition, it can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies. Bad night vision is characterized as difficulty driving at night, not being able to see objects properly at night, and slow response when light changes.
If you have difficulty seeing at night while driving, even with glasses or contacts, struggle when going into a dark movie theater during the daytime, or trip over big objects when walking around at night, you may have bad night vision.
Have you ever heard anyone say that carrots make you see better in the dark? While it is an old wives' tale, there is some truth to it! There are a few vitamins in carrots and other root vegetables that can help improve your night vision - that's if the cause of it is not genetic.
Genetically caused night vision problems can’t be cured with vitamins and minerals, but vitamin deficiencies can make the issues worse, so it's important to make sure you are eating all the right vitamins to prevent your night vision from suffering.
Vitamins for Night Vision
Vitamin A is the magic vitamin in carrots! This vitamin is required to make a chemical in our eye called rhodopsin, which helps our eyes respond when we go from bright light to dark light.
When vitamin A deficiency occurs, we can get white spots in our eyes called Bitot’s spot, which make it hard to see at night. In food, vitamin A is found in the form of beta carotene, which is then converted to vitamin A in our body. Sources include carrots, eggs, cheese, and broccoli.
Vitamin C plays many roles in the body, immunity being the biggest, but it also affects your eyes. Vitamin C can reduce the risk for cataract progression. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of your eyes making your vision blurry and eventually leading to blindness.
Vitamin C deficiency also makes seeing at night harder than normal and can lead to lights appearing streaky at night. Sources include citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, and strawberries.
Night blindness can be attributed to oxidative stress, which is caused by cells that set out to damage your body's healthy cells. One of the ways you can reduce these damaging cells is with antioxidants.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect your eyes from these damaging cells that can occur from an over-exposure to blue light.1 Sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, salmon, and avocado.
Fatty acids, in the form of omega-3, help to reduce inflammation and allow eyes to heal from excessive light exposure and aging. Lack of omega-3 can contribute to low night vision, especially the awareness of objects around you in the dark.
Sources include tuna, mackerel, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and leafy green vegetables.
There are six B -vitamins that play a role in eye health: B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12. These vitamins help to ease eye inflammation, assist in the transition from day to night, reduce damaging cells, and slow down age-related blindness 2,3.
Sources include seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, legumes, leafy greens, and seeds.
What About Supplements?
All the above vitamins can be taken in supplement form as well. While we may be eating the best we can, these vitamins may slip through the cracks of our diets, and supplements can be a great way to fill in the gaps.
Our top pick is Performance Lab Vision, which helps to improve night vision, reduce light glare, and fight the damaging effects of blue-ray light from our devices.
It contains all the above vitamins in natural forms to provide the best support for your overall eye health, especially useful if you are struggling with your night vision!
- Williams DL. Oxidative stress and the eye. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2008 Jan;38(1):179-92, vii. PMID: 18249249.
- Huang, Peirong et al. “Homocysteine and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Scientific reports vol. 5 10585. 21 Jul. 2015.
- Skalka HW, Prchal JT. Cataracts and riboflavin deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 May;34(5):861-3. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/34.5.861. PMID: 7234715.