Understand your blurry vision symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.
Blurry vision symptoms
Love at first sight. This may be an abstract concept to some, and it is probably harder to believe in if you experience any trouble with your eyes, such as blurry vision.
As the eyes are among the most complex organs in our bodies, it's only fair to theorize they may be in control of one of the most complex of our emotions. However, if you happen to be experiencing blurry vision, what else in your life may not be clear? Let's go over symptoms of this condition as well as any associated issues.
Common accompanying symptoms of blurry vision
You may experience blurry vision in combination with:
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Causes of blurry vision
Most cases of blurry vision are caused by disorders of refraction (how the eye focuses light), and these can be treated by getting a good eye exam and making sure your glasses and contact lenses are of the appropriate prescription for you.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, results in blurred distance vision. Causes of myopia include:
- Lots of reading
- Some medications
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, results in blurred near vision. Causes of hyperopia include:
- Inflammatory disorders
- Some medications
- Macular degeneration
Scheduling eye exams
Most of the time being far or near sighted isn't due to a particular cause, it just needs to be diagnosed and corrected. It is important to have regular eye exams starting at school age for kids (age 5 or 6) and then every few years as you get older. If you wear glasses or contacts, you need exams every year to make sure your prescription is right and your corrective lenses are working appropriately.
There is another type of refractive error that leads to issues at any distance called astigmatism. Astigmatism is usually genetic, but might also be caused by an eye injury or eye surgery.
With aging, the lens of your eye loses accommodating power (this is termed presbyopia). Presbyopia is not considered to be a refraction error, though it causes symptoms similar to those of farsightedness — the ability to focus on near objects is lost.
In older adults and sometimes in people who aren't all that old, blurry vision is due to cataracts or clouding of the lens of the eye. This can be due to damage from the sun and radiation, as well as genetic causes. This is a key reason to keep up with routine eye exams, especially after the age of 65, as this can be readily treated with surgery.
In diabetics, there can be damage to the retina, called diabetic retinopathy, that can result in a loss of vision . For this reason, it is key that diabetics get routine eyecare.
Other causes of blurry vision
Other causes of blurry vision may include:
- Brain tumors
- Myasthenia gravis: This is usually associated with double vision
- Incorrect eyeglass/contact lens prescription
- Cranial nerve disease or damage
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease in which the center of the retina is progressively damaged, leading to gradual central vision loss. The macula, found at the center of the retina, is responsible for producing central..
A cataract is when the lens, a crystalline structure in the eye that normally allows light into the eye, becomes cloudy. Symptoms of a cataract include blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, glare, difficulty discerning colors, and increased nearsightedness.
The diagnosis is made by examination by an ophtha..
Migraines are headaches of moderate to severe intensity, which happen when blood vessels in the brain swell up. They are episodic and thus can recur often. Most migraine sufferers experience increased sensitivity to sounds and/or lights and become nauseous and vomit.
Top Symptoms: headache, history of headaches, fatigue, nausea, mild headache
Symptoms that always occur with recurrent migraine: headache, history of headaches
Symptoms that never occur with recurrent migraine: fever, headache resulting from a head injury
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) needing imaging
A concussion is also known as mild traumatic brain injury or mild TBI.
Concussion is the result of being struck in the head. In some cases, especially with infants, being violently shaken so that the head whips back and forth can also cause a concussion.
Most susceptible are those playing contact sports. However, concussion is often the result of an automobile accident or simple fall and can happen to anyone.
Symptoms include headache; loss of balance and coordination; difficulty with memory and concentration; and sometimes, but not always, loss of consciousness.
If symptoms do not clear within a few hours, or seem to get worse, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination. A mild concussion does not show up on imaging because there is no bleeding or swelling in the brain. Mild concussion is entirely a disruption in brain function, with nothing to see on an image.
Treatment involves rest from both physical and mental activity.
Top Symptoms: nausea or vomiting, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, frequent mood swings
Symptoms that always occur with concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) needing imaging: head or face injury
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which the retina becomes damaged in people with diabetes. Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include high blood sugars, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, genetic factors, undergoing cataract surgery, puberty,..
Hypertensive crisis occurs when your blood pressure becomes dangerously high (180/120 mm Hg), to a level that can damage your organs. Hypertensive crisis is categorized as "hypertensive urgency" if the blood pressure is high without damage to organs, and as "hypertensive emergen..
Acute close-angle glaucoma
Acute closed-angle glaucoma is also called angle-closure glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma. "Acute" means it begins suddenly and without warning.
"Glaucoma" means the fluid pressure inside one or both eyes is too high. "Closed-angle" means that the iris – the circular band of color in the eye – does not dilate open properly and blocks the natural drainage mechanism within the eye. The fluid builds up and causes the pressure to increase.
The exact cause of any glaucoma is not known. It may be an inherited trait.
Acute closed-angle glaucoma can be triggered by an extreme dilation of the eyes, as when walking from bright light into total darkness.
Symptoms include sudden eye pain, headache, nausea, blurred vision, and seeing a rainbow-like aura around lights. This is a medical emergency. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.
Diagnosis is made through patient history and thorough eye examination.
Treatment involves surgery to correct the dilation and drainage mechanisms of the eyes, as well as prescription eyedrops and oral medications.
Top Symptoms: headache, nausea or vomiting, vision changes, being severely ill, eye pain
Urgency: Hospital emergency room
Post-concussion syndrome is a set of symptoms that can occur after a head injury. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that involves confusion and memory loss, with or without a loss of consciousness. Post-concussion syndrome typically occurs after concuss..
New onset of type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes was formerly known as juvenile diabetes, and is the version of the disease found in children and young adults. Only about 5% of all diabetes cases are type 1.
With any type of diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to break down and digest sugar. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune condition that attacks the cells of the pancreas and may be genetic.
Most susceptible are children under age 14.
Symptoms include increased hunger and thirst; unintended weight loss; irritability; and fatigue.
If not treated, diabetes leads to severe and sometimes life-threatening health problems. It is very important to seek treatment if any type of diabetes is suspected.
Diagnosis is made through patient history and blood tests.
Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed with insulin injections and careful attention to diet and exercise. Regular monitoring, both by a medical provider and by the patient, is an important part of controlling this condition.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, vomiting, general abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss
Urgency: In-person visit
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Blurry vision treatments and relief
When blurry vision is an emergency
Seek immediate medical care if you have blurry vision and:
- Loss of feeling on your forehead or cheek
- Sudden, severe head pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Head trauma
- Difficulty understanding speech, or slurred speech
- Fever: Over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Memory loss
- Numbness or paralysis on one side of your body
- Halos or blind spots in your vision
Blurry vision is most often treated with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses or corrective surgery (lasik). Having sharp vision both near and far is crucial to everyday functioning, and failing to treat refractive errors can result in vision loss. Like other senses, vision contributes to our interpretation of our environment. Vision allows us to enjoy the world's beauty, which may, indeed, be in the "eye of the beholder."
FAQs about blurry vision
Can high blood sugar cause blurred vision?
Yes, over time high blood sugar can alter the amount of water retained by the lens of your eye changing its shape and blurring your vision. Depending on how long the process has occurred, changes to the lens can be permanent. High blood sugar can also cause blurry vision, and is caused by diabetes, which can cause damage to the small blood vessels of the retina damaging your vision. Less commonly, an acute diabetic attack with extremely high sugars can cause neurologic changes including blurred vision.
Will allergies cause blurry vision?
Generally no, but if allergies cause you to have increased formation of tears or heavily irritated eyes then yes, those symptoms can lead to blurry vision. Vision changes should be taken seriously and prolonged blurry vision should elicit medical evaluation.
Can diabetes lead to blurred vision?
Yes. It can lead to blurred vision through two mechanisms. Non-permanent damage can occur when the high blood sugar in the blood causes more fluid to flow into the lens of the main. More permanent damage to the small vessels of the eye can cause irreversible changes in vision. The threat of irreversible vision damage
Why do I have blurry vision when I'm tired?
You may have eye strain from reading or staring at a backlit screen. Blurry vision may come from the muscles of the eye tiring out and becoming unable to focus. You may need glasses or contact lenses, or you may need to close your eyes for a period of time to rest. It is recommended that if your work involves screen time that lasts for at least 10 minutes every hour, take some time to focus on something farther away wherever you're working to give your eyes some rest.
Can blurry vision be caused by a lack of sleep?
Generally no, but lack of sleep and eye fatigue are commonly associated and eye fatigue can cause blurry vision, especially in those without an adequate prescription for their eyes. As the body becomes sleepier, it becomes more difficult to focus the lens of the eye and the result is blurry vision or vision that takes a longer time to focus.
Questions your doctor may ask about blurry vision
- Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
- Does light bother your eyes more than usual?
- What is your body mass?
- Do you currently smoke?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Blurry vision statistics
People who have experienced blurry vision have also experienced:
- 9% Headache
- 5% Dizziness
- 5% Nausea
People who have experienced blurry vision were most often matched with:
- 33% Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- 33% Cataract
- 33% Recurrent Migraine
People who have experienced blurry vision had symptoms persist for:
- 38% Less than a day
- 27% Over a month
- 19% Less than a week
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).
- Facts About Myopia. National Eye Institute. Updated October 2017. NEI Link.
- Facts About Hyperopia. National Eye Institute. Updated July 2016. NEI Link.
- Astigmatism. American Optometric Association. AOA Link.
- Fernandez J, Rodriguez-Vallejo M, Pinero DP, et al. From Presbyopia to Cataracts: A Critical Review on Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome. Journal of Ophthalmology. 2018;2018:4318405. NCBI Link.
- Watch Out for Diabetic Retinopathy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated November 5, 2018. CDC Link.