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Blurred vision

Vision problems can have many causes. Blurred vision – when objects look fuzzy and out of focus – is common and can affect anyone at any age.

Summary introduction

It can come on gradually or suddenly, affect all or part of your sight, and be the result of a minor problem or something more serious.

You can also get blurry vision in one eye only.

Most cases are treatable but it’s important to pinpoint the cause.

Causes of blurred vision

There are many possible reasons for blurred vision.

Eyesight problems

  • Refractive errors, such as short sight (myopia), long sight (hyperopia), age-related loss of near sight (presbyopia), or a distortion of vision (astigmatism)
  • Eye strain due to looking at something, such as your computer screen, for a long time, or wearing the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Wearing your contact lenses for too long

Conditions

  • An eye infection
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Pterygium - a non-cancerous growth on the eye’s surface, which can alter the shape of the cornea
  • Cataracts
  • Eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy
  • Non-eye-related conditions, such as migraine, stroke or, rarely, a brain tumour

Other causes

  • Pregnancy, due to hormonal changes altering the shape and thickness of your cornea
  • Trauma or injury, including scratches to your cornea, the transparent membrane that covers your eye; accidentally getting chemicals in your eye; or detachment of your retina (a part of your eye that’s crucial for sight) from its blood supply
  • Medication side effects

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

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Conditions related to blurred vision

Cataracts

A cataract is the gradual clouding of your lens, which is a transparent disc behind your iris (the coloured part of your eye). It’s common in people over 65, though it can happen earlier. Besides blurred vision, symptoms include sensitivity to light and a dulling effect on colours. Luckily, it’s easily treated with cataract surgery.

Diabetes

Over time, diabetes can lead to a condition called retinopathy, when the tiny blood vessels at the back of your eye become blocked and leak. This can lead to sight loss but can be prevented if detected early through regular screening.

Glaucoma

There are four types of glaucoma, which can lead to a build-up of pressure in your eye, damaging the optic (seeing) nerve. This can permanently damage your sight, especially your side vision, but once it’s detected, sight loss can usually be prevented.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

The cone cells on the macula (a part of your eye that’s vital for seeing) become damaged, leading to loss of central vision. There are two main types: dry AMD, which progresses slowly but is untreatable, and wet AMD, which progresses more rapidly but is treatable, especially if spotted early.

Getting a diagnosis for blurred vision

It’s important to get a diagnosis for blurred vision as soon as possible, especially if it's come on suddenly and/or you have other symptoms. See your optometrist or GP for further investigation.

Go straight to your nearest hospital’s A&E department if you also have:

  • Severe eye pain
  • A sudden change in your vision
  • Visual disturbances, such as flashing lights, spots, halos or shadows
  • Severe headache
  • Had an accident affecting your eyes
  • Facial drooping, problems speaking or loss of muscle control

Treatments for blurred vision

Treatment depends on the cause. They may include:

  • Corrective glasses or contact lenses for refractive problems, such as short and long sight, astigmatism and presbyopia
  • Lifestyle advice for eye strain and over-wearing of contact lenses
  • Eye drops for dry eye syndrome, infections, and other conditions
  • Surgery to remove cataracts
  • Medication, injections or sometimes laser treatment for various eye conditions including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy
  • Painless drug injections into the eye for wet AMD to prevent further damage
  • Specific treatments for underlying health conditions that may be causing your blurred vision, such as migraine or stroke

Enquire about treatments at your local Spire hospital

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