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Be aware of the effects of night on your vision

Be aware of the effects of night on your vision

By AOPA ePublishing staff

The days are getting shorter and pilots will be flying more during nighttime hours. Humans don't have great night vision under the best of circumstances.

The normal effects of aging, including presbyopia, or reduced near vision acuity, glaucoma, and other serious eye disorders, plus other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and the effects of smoking all conspire to compromise our night vision adaptability.

And pilots — mostly males — who have the added deficit of a color vision deficiency may also notice it's more difficult to comfortably read navigation charts and radio frequencies on the panel when the sun goes down. Read about how one pilot's color vision deficiency contributed to an accident when he assumed he could interpret the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) in " Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Into the Abyss," by Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

It can take 30 minutes or more for our eyes to become accustomed to the dark and adapt to the low-light environment. It will take even longer if we've been exposed to bright sunlight for several hours. Wearing good quality sunglasses with high ultraviolet (UV) protection can help a lot. Nutritional supplements like bilberry may enhance your night vision adaptability, too.

Read more about the challenges of flying in the dark in the AOPA night flight subject report.

October 1, 2007

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