7 Causes of Blurred Vision and How to Treat Them
Dealing with blurred vision, a very common symptom of eye problems, can be irritating and stressful as it affects your daily life. Sometimes it’s a sign that you simply need new glasses, other times it can be a signal of a more serious problem. To help you deal with blurred vision, we’ve compiled a list of the top seven causes of blurred vision and the best ways to treat them.
1. Nearsightedness (Myopia), Farsightedness (Hyperopia) and Astigmatism
For people who suffer from nearsightedness, faraway objects appear blurry while nearby objects appear normal. This is due to light focusing in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Farsightedness, on the other hand, causes people to see faraway objects clearly while close objects are blurry. This is caused by light hitting the back of the retina rather than directly on it.
For some, their vision eventually degrades to the point where objects at all distances appear blurry.
Astigmatism is a refractive error in which the cornea, the transparent surface of the eye, has an irregular shape. This prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, making objects at all distance appear blurry.
Billions (yes, billions!) of people around the world are afflicted with these eye disorders to varying degrees. Depending on the severity of the eye disorder, you may suffer from headaches and eye strain if left untreated for long enough. Luckily, they’re generally easy to correct with prescription glasses or contact lenses. Some even opt for laser eye surgery for a more permanent solution.
2. Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome
How many hours a day do you spend on your phone and laptop? Do you watch a lot of TV? With the ubiquity of electronic devices and technology rapidly advancing, it’s no surprise that more and more people are experiencing digital eye strain. Prolonged exposure to screens of electronic devices causes blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches.
Here are a few tips for reducing digital eye strain:
- Reduce your usage of electronic devices with screens
- Take more breaks (e.g. take a 5-minute break for every 20 minutes you’re scrolling on your phone)
- Keep your devices as far away from your eyes as possible
- Adjust brightness depending on how much natural light is available
- Use computer glasses to filter out blue light
3. Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)
Chronic dry eyes occur when your eyes lack proper lubrication from their lack of ability to produce enough tears or the tears evaporating too quickly. There are several causes of dry eyes:
- Contact lenses
- Dry air
- Side effects of certain drugs
- Diseases that affect your ability to produce tears
- The natural aging process
- Meibomian gland disfunction (the glands along the rim of the inside of the eyelid)
- Problems that prevent the eyelids from closing properly
Artificial tear drops and ointments are usually the first-line treatment for chronic dry eyes. Other treatments include testosterone cream, steroid eye drops, punctual plugs, and blue light glasses.
4. Eye Floaters
Ah, those pesky eye floaters. These little black spots that float around in your line of vision and can be quite bothersome, though many people learn to live with them and notice them less over time. What are they and why do they appear in our eyes?
As we get older, the vitreous, a gel-like substance which fills in the inside of the eye and helps keep its round shape, liquefies and becomes stringy. What you see aren’t the floaters themselves, but the tiny shadows that these stringy fibers cast on your retina. Floaters can also be caused by eye injuries.
Generally speaking, eye floaters aren’t harmful, which means you won’t have to worry about them beyond the fact that they can be a minor nuisance. Not to mention, they’re not as noticeable when it’s dark.
Most people choose to ignore them as they tend to disappear on their own or aren’t disruptive enough to warrant seeking invasive treatment. That being said, some people may opt to have an ophthalmologist surgically remove the floaters or use laser technology to break them up so that they’re less noticeable.
If floaters are impairing your vision or you notice that they’ve suddenly appeared in your eye within a short time frame, see your eye doctor immediately.
Cataracts, the leading cause of blindness, are caused by the clouding of the lens in your eye, which diminishes your vision. They’re mostly caused by the natural aging process but sometimes it can occur due to trauma or after surgery for other eye issues.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Increased need for brighter lights when doing certain activities
- Double vision in a single eye
- Seeing halos around lights
- Colors appearing muted or dull
If the cataracts are minimally affecting your vision, getting the right glasses or contact lenses may do the trick. When corrective lenses stop being effective in everyday activities like driving and reading, you can opt for surgery to replace cataracts with artificial lenses. Fortunately, this surgery is a quite common, effective, and safe way to remove cataracts. The procedure consists of removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that result in damage to the optic nerve, causing vision loss. It’s typically associated with increased pressure inside the eye, but it can also occur when the level of pressure in the eye is normal.
There are two major categories of glaucoma:
- open-angle glaucoma
- narrow-angle or closed-angle glaucoma
With most types of glaucoma, there typically won’t be any noticeable symptoms until you experience loss of vision. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams to increase your chances of detecting problems early on.
However, someone suffering from acute closed-angle glaucoma must see a doctor immediately as it’s considered a serious medical emergency. Symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Redness in the eye
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seeing halos around lights
A stroke, a sudden interruption of blood flow to any part of the brain, can negatively affect your vision. You may experience blurred vision, double vision or loss of vision in one eye during a stroke.
In the case of a stroke call your medical emergency service immediately. The types of treatment you would receive depends on the type of stroke and its severity.
There are many reasons why you can experience blurred vision. Regardless of which problems are causing it, it’s always in your best interest to take preventative measures. Take care of the general health eyes and the rest of your body, including getting regular checkups and exams and minimizing exposure to UV rays and looking at the screen with blue light glasses.