Blurry Vision: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment & Causes

Someone with blurry vision will experience a lack of visual sharpness and clarity. Hazy, milky, or fuzzy images may also occur with the condition. 

The Most Common Causes of Blurry Vision

There are a great many potential causes of blurry vision. Some of them, such as diabetes, pregnancy, migraine, or rheumatoid arthritis, are systemic and not caused by the eyes themselves at all. 

Among causes of blurry vision directly involving the eyes, refractive problems are the most common. These include myopia or nearsightedness, presbyopia or farsightedness, and astigmatism, which is blurry or fuzzy vision caused by faulty shaping of the cornea or lens. 

A refractive problem means that light entering the eye isn’t being bent correctly. To see clearly, light must land on the retina at the back of the eye precisely. If it does not, and it falls behind the retina, you will see well at a distance but not close up. This is hyperopia. 

Light falling short of the retina, meaning in front of it, results in myopia or nearsightedness. You will experience blurry vision at a distance but not close up. Persons with myopia can often read micro-tiny print that no one else of their age can. 

Myopia is the most common refractive error. 

Astigmatism results when the shape of the cornea or lens isn’t perfectly round. At the imperfect places, light entering the eye will not be bent correctly and can cause fuzzy or blurry vision. 

There are wildly varying degrees of all three of the leading refractive errors of the eye. 

Blurry vision may occur in one eye or both eyes. It’s certainly possible to have plano vision in one eye, meaning 20/20 normal vision, and a refractive problem needing correction in the other. 

Presbyopia can cause blurry vision as well, but only at close or reading distances. This condition affects people as they grow older and is, in fact, a normal part of the aging process. It’s annoying but benign. 

With presbyopia, persons in their early forties will begin to notice that they can no longer see clearly to read, even though the rest of their vision remains normal and unchanged. This is caused by the eye’s lens having difficulty focusing at the typical reading distance range. 

Both refractive errors and presbyopia are easily treated with eyeglasses and contact lenses. 

Possible Causes of Blurry Vision Discussion

Some of these include:

Dry eye syndrome (burning & stinging)

Pregnancy

Diabetes

Migraines

Eye floaters

Blurry vision after LASIK refractive surgery

Eye drops and other medications

Contact lenses

Dry Eye Syndrome

Although dry eye is often easily treated with over-the-counter eye drops, gels, and ointments, more severe cases may require prescription eye drops containing cyclosporine. 

Punctal plugs, tiny plastic devices used to reversibly plug the draining tear ducts, may help some of those with dry eyes. 

Although effective in many cases, gels and ointments for dry eyes may cause temporary blurry vision on their own and so may only be suitable for overnight use. 

Pregnancy and Blurry Vision

The hormones of pregnancy can cause changes in the cornea and may result in both blurry vision and double vision. This is relatively common and typically subsides shortly after the birth of the child.

However, any visual changes during pregnancy should be reported to your physician to rule out gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. 

Diabetes

The high blood sugar of poorly controlled diabetes may cause the cornea to swell and result in blurry vision. This is a common diabetic complication and should be promptly reported to your doctor. 

Migraines

There are many different migraine types. Two of them, in particular, ocular migraine and migraine with aura, may produce visual disturbances, including flashes of light, bold black zigzag patterns in the visual field, halos, and blurry vision.

This is typically harmless and will subside when the attack resolves, but it should still be reported to your doctor. 


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Eye Floaters

These are bits of protein called collagen floating in the vitreous fluid inside the eyeball. They look like dots or black lines dancing in the visual field and may appear to blur some images. 

Most floaters are harmless, but those that appear suddenly or are accompanied by flashes of light may indicate a detached retina, a medical emergency. 

Blurry Vision after LASIK

LASIK or any type of similar refractive surgery may cause blurry vision as the eye heals. This typically subsides after a few days. If it does not, you should discuss this with your eye surgeon. 

Medications

Some eye drops may contain preservatives and other ingredients that can cause irritation and blurry vision. Ask your doctor for an alternative if this happens to you. 

Certain oral medications, a great many of them, have blurry vision as a possible side effect. Consult with your doctor to find a solution to this cause of blurry vision. 

Contact Lenses

These can contribute to dry eye, which can, in turn, cause blurry vision. Over wearing your lenses and failing to follow care instructions may worsen this problem. Contacts are convenient and safe if used correctly but can cause problems if they are not. 

Always follow your eye care professional’s instructions for contact lens care and report any problems promptly. 

Serious Causes of Blurry Vision

Because both minor and serious issues can cause blurry vision, a consultation with your eye care professional is always required. Here are some possible serious causes:

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when proteins in the eye’s lens break down, often due to the aging process. Vision may become cloudy or hazy. If you feel glare or see halos around lights at night, you may have a cataract.

A cataract is easily treated with surgery to implant a new lens, restoring vision to normal. If left untreated, cataracts can blind. 

Macular Hole

Sudden blurry vision may result from a macular hole, a defect in the retina’s macula or central area. The macula is the part of the retina most responsible for the clearest, sharpest central vision.

Glaucoma

Caused by too much pressure within the eye, glaucoma can blind if left untreated. It often has no symptoms. Your eye care professional guards against this disease by measuring the pressure inside your eye at every exam. 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Another macular problem involves a severe malfunction of the macula. Patients report blurry vision and problems with lines appearing wavy when they should be straight. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

This condition can damage sight and even cause complete blindness. This is why all people with diabetes should receive regular eye exams. 

Cardiovascular Disease and Others

Blurry vision can be a warning sign of an impending stroke. It can also signal multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune, progressive neurological disease. Blurry vision can mean so many things that only a medical professional can determine exactly what the problem is and recommend treatment. Click here for information on other eye conditions.

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