A woman looking at an object

What Causes Blurred Vision?

Blurred vision – when you lack sharpness in your vision and are unable to detect fine details – can occur for a number of different reasons. Often, blurry vision is a sign of a refractive error, such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness or astigmatism. However, it can also be a symptom of more serious eye conditions or neurological disorders.

What is Blurred Vision?

Blurred vision symptoms include the inability to detect finer details in objects, even if they are close up, as well as things appearing hazy and out of focus. This means your eyes are not able to properly process light signals, resulting in a loss of sharpness with your sight.

You may experience sudden blurred vision or it may come on more gradually over time. It can affect both eyes or you may have blurred vision in one eye. It’s important to consult an optician for an eye examination to determine the cause of your blurred vision.

Blurred Vision Causes

Causes of blurred vision can include benign factors such as eye strain, side effects from medication, foreign bodies in the eye or movement of a contact lens. However, progressive or sudden blurred vision could indicate something more serious. Blurred vision causes include:

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: This is a common eye condition in people over 50 years old and involves damage to the macular, which affects the eye’s central vision

Glaucoma: This eye condition causes loss of vision as a result of damage to the optic nerve.

Cataracts: Characterised by clouding or opacity of the lens in the eye, cataracts can result in gradual blurring and glare.

Diabetic Retinopathy: A complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the retina’s blood vessels.

Corneal Abrasion: Typically a result of trauma to the eye, a corneal abrasion is a small scratch on the cornea.

Eye Infections: Blurry vision can also occur as a result of eye infections, such as conjunctivitis.

Neurological Conditions: Changes in vision can sometimes be a sign of neurological emergencies, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a brain hemorrhage.

Migraine: Blurred vision and a headache can be symptoms of a migraine, along with sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting.

Refractive Errors: Myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea) and presbyopia (an age-related vision problem) are all common and manageable blurry vision causes.

When to Seek Medical Advice for Blurred Vision

If you experience blurred vision, it’s important to see an optometrist so they can determine the cause. A blurred vision diagnosis will involve eye exams, vision and refraction tests, tonometry (measuring eye pressure), and may include imaging of your eye. This will allow your optometrist to identify what the right blurred vision treatment is for you.

With refractive errors, you will be prescribed corrective glasses or lenses. However, if the cause of blurred vision is an eye condition, you may need to be referred for medication or surgery. At Moorfields Private, we provide tests, diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of eye conditions that cause blurred vision.

If you experience blurred vision alongside symptoms such as severe headache, loss of muscle control, facial drooping or difficulty speaking, these may be symptoms of a stroke. In this case, you should contact the emergency services to seek immediate medical attention.

Addision, Peter

Written in association with

Mr Peter Addison

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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