Having clear and sharp vision help you focus better, perceive the world around you in a unique way and you can easily do everyday tasks. However, sometimes the vision becomes hazy or blurry, and you feel like someone has put a filter over your eyes and you’re no longer able to see anything with the same sharpness as before. Blurred vision is caused by several different reasons. The main purpose of this article is to discuss causes of blurred vision and to provide useful information about treatments.
Blurred vision overview
Blurred vision refers to a lack of sharpness in one’s vision which results with the inability to see objects and surroundings with the same focus. This problem doesn’t affect elderly people only, but the population of all ages. For example, The Vision Council conducted a thorough research which showed that 70% of Americans have blurred vision. Results of their research were published at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. According to research results, most Americans develop blurry vision due to staring at smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Additionally, sufferers can start to experience back pain, neck pain, and blurred vision after just 2 hours of using their gadget and scientists from The Vision Council suggest that exposure to certain types of digital screen lights can cause macular degeneration and cataracts.
The seriousness of a situation increases with the fact that average American spends between 6 and 9 hours per day in front of digital devices. Additionally, the percentage of adults spending more than 10 hours a day staring at devices raised by 4% comparing to the previous year.
Symptoms of blurred vision
Symptoms of blurred vision usually depend on the causes. In most cases, patients experience these signs and symptoms of blurry and hazy vision:
- Sensitivity to light or photophobia
- Eye pain
- Discharge from eye
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Loss of central vision
- Itchy and dry eyes
- Poor night vision
- Bleeding from eyes
- Difficult to see in the distance etc.
NOTE: if you notice blurred vision, with or without symptoms listed above, you should schedule an appointment and see an eye doctor.
Causes of Blurred vision
There is a wide range of causes of blurred vision. Sometimes, blurred vision is the result of staring at a computer screen for too long, and in some cases it is caused by the more serious disease. It is important to contact a professional to treat it before it becomes more severe. The most common factors of this problem include:
Refractive errors cause blurred vision in three different ways:
- Long-sightedness – person experiences blurred vision when viewing objects close up e.g. reading a book, using a computer
- Short-sightedness – subject experiences blurred vision when viewing objects at a distance e.g. driving, watching TV, or looking down the street.
- Astigmatism – causes blurred vision when viewing objects at any distance.
Cataracts are the clouding of the normally clear lenses of your eyes. If left untreated, cataracts can develop in severely blurred vision and significantly affect your life. If you had your cataracts removed and still experience blurry or hazy vision, then posterior capsule opacity or secondary cataract could be the cause.
You already realized it is associated with diabetes. High blood sugar levels i.e. Diabetes that damage your retina which is the focusing surface at the back of the eye. Macular oedema or the final stage of diabetic retinopathy can lead to blurred vision.
Epiretinal membrane is a thin and fibrous layer that develops on your retina. The membrane acts like a thin film that partially blocks the light entering your eye. In turn, you experience blurred vision i.e. images before your eyes seem like they are out of focus.
Keratoconus is, actually, an eye disease that leads to the conically shaped cornea. Since the cornea is essential for eye’s focusing, irregular shapes cause blurred vision.
Macula is the central part of your retina, and it enables you to see colors, details, and other things in front of you. Macular degeneration together with macular holes damages the macula causing blurriness of central vision.
It is one of the most severe causes of blurred vision and requires urgent help from healthcare professional. Detached retina causes sudden blurred vision and is also accompanied by other symptoms such as sudden blindness, flashes and floaters, etc.
Retinal vein occlusion
Retinal vein occlusion refers to blockage of blood vessels that feed retina. When this happens, the subject experiences sudden blurred vision, and it is advised to see an eye doctor immediately.
Pterygium is quite rare, and it is, actually, a benign growth that develops on the surface of patient’s eye. In some cases, it can grow onto the cornea, alter its shape, and cause the hazy vision.
Vitreous haemorrhage occurs when blood leaks into the vitreous gel that fills your eyes. In turn, light that enters the eyes is blocked which causes blurred vision. This occurrence is usually the result of head trauma or diabetic retinopathy.
It is one of the most common causes of blurred vision. Patients experience various infections e.g. conjunctivitis which affect their vision.
Other causes of blurred vision include:
- Chronic dry eyes
- Ocular migraines or migraine headaches
- Medication and some eye drop
- Over-wearing contact lenses.
Diagnosing blurred vision
When you see your eye doctor and complain about the blurred vision to treat it adequately, the doctor needs to know the reason of blurriness in your eyes. To do so, he or she will perform one of these tests:
- Slit-lamp examination – before the examination, you will get anesthetic eye drop that will numb surface of your eye and eye drop called fluorescein which coats the surface of your eye and glows under a blue light if something abnormal is present in the cornea. During the examination, the doctor will use a machine to focus on different structures in front and back of the eye to determine whether your eye is functioning properly.
- Refraction test – it measures your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. It is a standard procedure where you will have to read the chart in front of you while doctor switches lenses of different strengths to determine whether your eye’s blurriness is strong enough to require glasses or not.
- Tonometry – during the slit-lamp examination your doctor will also check intraocular pressure. It is done with an attachment on the lamp called tonometer. You will have to keep your eyes open and breathe normally. In some cases, doctors measure intraocular pressure with a puff of air on the eye’s surface.
Treating blurred vision
Treating blurry vision depends on the cause. It is why it’s important to see your eye doctor who will determine the cause of eye blurriness. Here are some treatments of blurred vision:
- ILasik – is the world’s most advanced laser eye surgery and is highly effective for blurred vision caused by refractive errors. Furthermore, if blurred vision is caused by cataracts or some other eye condition, your doctor will suggest laser surgery as well.
- Your doctor might recommend glasses or contact lenses. Moreover, if you already wear glasses or contact, then the eye doctor might suggest new ones with more power suitable for the intensity of blurred vision you experience.
- If blurred vision is caused by high blood sugar then regulating it would ease your condition. On the other hand, blurred vision can sometimes be caused by low blood sugar in which case you should eat a candy bar or something sweet.
- Eye drops – for patients who experience blurred vision due to eye dryness, the doctor will suggest eye drops with lubricating properties.
- Medications – if blurred vision is caused by a migraine or some other disease then taking medications to treat the particular disease or disorder will also relieve blurred vision.
NOTE: blurred vision caused by pregnancy retracts after childbirth.
Preventing blurred vision
- Always wear sunglasses to protect your eye when you’re outdoors.
- Don’t spend too much time in front of TV, computer, tablet or smartphone screen. If your job involves usage of computers or other gadgets you should take frequent breaks.
- Avoid alcohol as it also affects vision.
- Eat a diet with eye-healthy nutrients e.g. carrots, eggs
- Don’t smoke.
- Wash your hands before and after you put contact lenses in your eyes.
- Don’t touch or rub your eyes, especially if your hands aren’t clean.
- Wear protective eyewear when operating heavy machinery
- Check your blood pressure and blood sugar regularly.
Blurred vision is caused by many different reasons, and if left untreated it can lead to a more severe problem. Treatment depends on the cause which is why it is of extreme importance to see an eye doctor who will determine the cause and suggest adequate treatment. In most cases, treatment involves laser surgery, usage of lubricating eye drops, etc. Remember, if it is caused by some disease or condition in your body, relieving that disease will also ease blurred vision as well.