Do Night Vision Goggles Work In Complete Darkness?

Do Night Vision Goggles Work In Complete Darkness?

Technology has allowed us to do many things that our ancestors would have confined to myth or only would have dreamed of. For example, we can fly amongst the clouds as if we were birds, we can travel at unimaginable speeds, and we can explore the solar system. Night vision fits right in with the rest of these advancements.

Whether you use night vision goggles or a monocular to be able to see in darkness, people a mere 100 years ago would have never even dreamed of being able to see in the dark. Night vision is not entirely perfect, however, and we often get some questions about it.

Night Vision Monocular

One of the more common inquiries we get from our readers is whether or not night vision goggles can work in complete darkness. Before we address whether or not this is possible, we’ll have to make sure that everyone is on the same page by going over how night vision cameras, goggles, and other devices work.

How Does Night Vision Work?

Night vision systems take the light from your surroundings and make it much more intense, meaning that you’ll be able to see even when there isn’t much light around you. It is for this very reason that you shouldn’t look at bright lights through a night vision device, as that will dazzle you and may damage the sensors.

Some night vision devices take infrared light from your surroundings in addition to the little bit of visible light it can glean from the area around you. Now that we’ve established this, you may be wondering how night vision goggles can work in the first place when it is completely dark outside.

What Is Absolute Darkness?

The next question you’ll have to consider to answer the question of whether or not night vision goggles can work in total darkness is what exactly is absolute darkness. You have to consider that our eyes aren’t perfect, and even when it looks like our surroundings are pitch-black, there is always a small amount of light around you.

Unless you are enclosed in a box or a room without any cracks or possible routes for the light to come in, there will typically be some light. Where you’ll find visible light, there will also typically be some infrared light, making it easier for night vision goggles to work.

Will Night Vision Work In Total Darkness?

Now that we've laid out the basics, you may be wondering how night vision goggles would work on a moonless night where there are no outside sources of light. Even though a night like this will make it impossible to see without night vision, there will typically be enough light to be able to use your night vision device effectively.

Man Wearing NV Goggles


We hope that this guide has helped you understand a little more about how night vision works and its interaction with total darkness. Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any remarks or questions.

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