How to Transition Into Different Lighted Situations

Happy kids in a pool wearing funky sunglasses

Do Your Eyes Have Trouble Adjusting to the Dark or Light? These Tips Will Help

Stepping into the bright sunshine or entering a dimly lit room can temporarily affect your vision, whether you have 20/20 vision or wear corrective lenses. Fortunately, following a few simple guidelines can help you avoid scrapes, bruises, or even broken bones while your eyes adjust.

How Can I See Better in the Dark?

Photoreceptor cells in your retina, called rods and cones, help you adjust to bright and dark conditions. The retina is the light-sensitive layer that lines the back of your eye. Cones work best in bright light and help you see colors and fine details, while rods are very sensitive to low light.

It can take several hours for your rods to fully adapt to dimly lit conditions, although your vision will gradually begin to improve soon after you enter a dark room or go outside at night. Full adjustment to bright conditions occurs in just a few minutes.

Seeing in the dark becomes more difficult as you age, due to several reasons.

  • Smaller pupils. Aging causes the pupils to shrink, which allows less light to enter your eyes in dark conditions.
  • Not as many rods. The number of rods in your retina decreases as you get older. Aging can also slow regeneration of rhodopsin, a photopigment necessary for good night vision. The photopigment decomposes in bright light, then regenerates in the dark.
  • Eye conditions. Seeing in the dark and at night can be more difficult if you have cataracts or macular degeneration.

No matter what your age, you can help your eyes adjust to the dark by:

  • Closing your eyes. Before you move into a dark area, close your eyes for a few minutes to speed dark adaptation.
  • Wearing sunglasses when you're outside. The longer you're exposed to bright light, the longer it will take for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Wear sunglasses year-round to make adjusting to the dark easier.
  • Seeing Red. Glasses with red-tinted lenses make seeing in low lighting easier, as rods don't detect the color. Wearing the glasses for just 30 minutes before you venture outside or into a dark room can hasten the adjustment process.
  • Limiting exposure to bright lights. Looking directly at bright lights can make it harder to see in the dark. If you have cataracts, glare from oncoming headlights can be a problem when you drive at night. Try to avoid looking directly at the lights to make driving more comfortable.
  • Changing the settings on digital devices. Viewing brightly lit smartphones, iPads, TVs, laptops, and other digital devices may make it difficult to adjust to dim light. Decreasing the brightness on the devices offers a simple solution.
  • Lubricating your eyes. Dry eyes can make it more difficult to see in the dark. Use lubricating drops throughout the day if your eyes are dry.

What Can I Do If I Have Trouble Adjusting to Bright Light?

Some of the same tips that help you adjust to the dark can also be useful if you have a problem with bright light. You may find it easier to tolerate bright light if you:

  • Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are a must if you'll be outside but can also be helpful if bright lights indoors bother you. Put the glasses on before you go outside. Choose wraparound styles that cover the sides, tops, and bottoms of the eyes. Transition lenses that darken when you go outside and gradually lighten indoors are a good choice if you don't want to constantly take your sunglasses on and off. Sensitivity to light is more likely to be an issue if you have blue, gray, or green eyes.
  • Add an anti-reflective coating to your glasses. An anti-reflective coating added to eyeglass lenses decreases glare and may be well worth the additional cost. If you spend hours working on a computer every day, ask your eye doctor about lenses that block blue light. Blue-blocking lenses reduce eyestrain and headaches and may even lower your risk of macular degeneration.
  • Turn down the lights. Installing dimmer switches on your lights at home, adding filters to digital devices that decrease glare, and lowering the brightness level on your phone, computer, or TV can be helpful. Fluorescent lights can be very irritating if you're sensitive to bright light. Desk lamps offer a more comfortable lighting choice, although you may not be able to turn off fluorescent lights if you don't have a private office. Wearing tinted lenses may improve your comfort.

Are you concerned about your ability to see well in dim or bright conditions? Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

All About Vision: Photophobia

https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/lightsensitive.htm

Harvard Health Publishing: Blinded by the Night, 6/07

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/blinded-by-the-night

EveryDay Health: How to Relieve Light Sensitivity

https://www.everydayhealth.com/visioncenter/healthyeye/specialist/behrens/how-to-relieve-light-sensitivity.aspx

Location

Find us on the map

Hours of Operation

We are closed for lunch daily from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Brier Creek Vision Care

Monday:

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday:

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday:

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday:

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Friday:

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonial

  • "Excellent office. Staff is helpful and polite when dealing with my special needs child. They understand when he needs break and how to redirect to another technique to achieve goal. Would highly recommend to others!"
    Jennifer, Raleigh, NC
  • "I needed an eye doctor to see me for my concussion issue that effected my eyesight. There isn't many who are able to assess. Dr. Durham knew just how to work with my case in a gentle manner to help keep me calm. I finally have hope for healing now."
    Elizabeth 3/15/19 - Answer to Prayer
  • "Dr Durham is amazing. She takes the time to hear the patient and is extemely knowlegable."
    Susan 3/16/19 - Amazing
  • "All the staff were very helpful & Susan Durham was very thorough & professional"
    Jill 3/14/19
  • "Dr. Durham and her staff are the best and most knowledgeable dealing with brain injuries. Highly recommended!"
    Kristina 3/11/19 - Absolutely the best!
  • "Thought exam was personal, deteilrd and fully explained. Staff were prompt, kind, snd professional. I’d recommend Dr. Durham’s clinic to anyone needing eye care."
    Thomas 3/10/19
  • "The staff was very polite and extremely patient with my condition. Very specific about my condition and caring to help me recover. We will have a long road to recovery together."
    Elizabeth 3/11/19
  • "Didn't have to wait. Very thorough eye exam."
    Sandy 3/7/19 - Great eye checkup
  • "My visit was more than I could of asked for. I told my friends about my visit to the future. Dr. Dunham was extremely knowledgeable, concerned and determined to get it right, Her staff seemed to respect her greatly. staff was trained very well and gave me the confidence they knew what they were doing.
    I have already told my friends about my visit to the future."
    Patricia 2/24/19 - Everything was perfect.
  • "My daughter and I have have had great experiences at Brier Creek Vision! Dr. N. Is fantastic!! The office staff is super friendly, accommodating and very pleasurable to work with. Eye glass frames are plentiful and the opticians are helpful, suggestive and patient! Thanks to everyone for making all of visits wonderful!!"
    Cynthia 2/14/19 – Great Experience
  • "Dr Nakagawara is open, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Karim Glover in the optical dispensary took great care in explaining and helping me to get great value on a new set of prescription sunglasses that will do much more than my previous set. Extremely happy.
    Loved the Optician!"
    Thomas 2/22/19 - Great Doctors and Team...
  • "I cannot tell you how happy I am with Brier Creek Vision. Everyone from the moment you enter, all the way through the appointment, is knowledgeable friendly and caring. I receive excellent and professional care. Highly recommend!"
    Helen 2/21/19 - Excellent care
  • "Went from 20/30 to 20/20! The sky is the limit with dr Patel. Will continue to bring both my kids here...."
    Temidayo 2/17/19 - Dr Patel Rocks!!!!
  • "I have had nothing but amazing experiences here! The entire staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. I have never walked away unsatisfied."
    Shelby 2/14/19 - Awesome!
  • "This office has all of the latest equipment and skills to take care of your eyes."
    Wales 2/6/19 - Great eye care!
  • "The atmosphere in the office is very pleasant and welcoming. I always feel comfortable in both the waiting room and the exam rooms. Selecting glasses is also a breeze, as the staff is extremely helpful and knowledgable."
    Kris 1/31/19 - Amazing Experience
  • "Our family visit was over the top. The entire staff took their time and made sure each and everyone's exam was through. No pressure to buy glasses. Our experience with Dr. Nakagawara was outstanding!!"
    Melissa 1/31/19 - Recommend
  • "I always have the best visit at Brier Creek Vision. My Doctor, Esther Nakagawara, is the best at what she does! She handles the procedures with care, caution and concern, explains well and has the best solutions to keep your eyes healthy. The staff is accommodating, patient and very kind to everyone; they never mind answering questions. The opticians are helpful in assisting with the selection of eyecare that looks good and works the best for you. I have told many people about my positive experiences at Brier Creek Vision and recommended this office as well."
    Kailah 1/30/19 - The Best in Eyeccare!!
  • "My family and I have been patients of Brier Creek Vision for 2 years. Dr. Nakagawara is a very caring and skilled OD who communicates, teaches and plans well. The staff and optometrists are inviting, knowledgeable and very helpful. We have recommended BCV to all our friends and family!"
    Cynthia 1/30/19 - Highly recommend
  • "I was thrilled to learn about the new Shaw lens concept to treat my daughter's amblyopia!"
    Molly 1/30/19 - Excellent Experience