Warning Signs: What Are the Causes of Blurred Vision?

People tend to not fully appreciate good eyesight until it starts to go; when the lines blur, the importance of vision becomes crystal clear.

Of our 5 senses, we mostly use our vision to help us with daily activities. So, when hazy vision occurs, it can create major frustration and elicits a visit to a trusted Ophthalmologist or Optometrist.

Since blurry vision impacts a person’s daily life and can signal a more serious issue, let’s discuss the condition a little more in-depth, reveal possible causes of blurred vision, and clarify ways to treat and prevent it.

What Is Blurred Vision?

Blurred vision refers to the loss of visual clarity that makes vision fuzzy and out of focus.

Causes of Blurred Vision and Treatment Options

Causes of blurry vision range from minor anatomical issues to more serious problems that may lead to blindness if left untreated. Let’s look at structural problems, abnormality, and eye diseases that cause your sight to blur.

Refractive Errors

Hyper Physics shows the similarity between our eyes and cameras; we too rely on light entering our eyes and bending, or refracting, as it passes through each structure, to ultimately focus on the retina, which creates the clear images we see.

A refractive error occurs when the shape of the eye alters the path of light, causing it to focus somewhere other than the retina.

Common refractive errors include:

Hyperopia

Commonly called farsightedness, you will notice that objects far away look clearer than those closer to you.

This can occur with a:

  • flat lens
  • shorter than normal eye length
  • curved cornea (structure responsible for 80% of refraction)

This condition affects 5-10% of the population, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Myopia

Typically called nearsightedness, you will notice that near objects appear sharper than those at a distance.

This can occur with a:

  • lens that is curved too much
  • longer eye length
  • curved cornea

Myopia is much more common, affecting 25% of the population (NEI).

Astigmatism

This can occur with near or farsightedness and happens when light focuses outside the retina. It creates hazy vision and makes objects look stretched.

Presbyopia

The Census Beauru projects this rising condition to affect 123 million Americans by 2020. It occurs when normal aging affects the lens’ ability to properly refract light, causing blurred vision in both eyes.

Higher Order Aberrations

These make about 15% of refractive errors in the eye and happen from tears or other abnormalities in components affecting the passage of light through the eye, thus creating distortions.

This can occur from any type of trauma to the eye, like scar tissue, injury, or cataracts. There are a number of higher order aberrations, as shown here.

Additional Symptoms of Refractive Errors

With any lower order refractive error, you may also notice:

  • headaches
  • double vision
  • squinting
  • glares
  • halos
  • eyestrain

If you experience any or all of these symptoms, your eye doctor will test your refraction to determine the severity of the problem and course of treatment.

Treatment Options

Common lower order treatments include:

These are among the easier of the causes of blurred vision to treat.

Cataracts

Cataracts affect more than 22 million Americans and can lead to complete vision loss.

What Is a Cataract?

A cataract refers to the fogging or clouding of the lens of the eye. The risk factors for developing cataracts include:

  • family history
  • sunlight and other sources of UV rays
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • alcoholism
  • certain medications and hormone therapy
  • eye trauma
  • serious nearsightedness

Though doctors understand the risk factors involved, research continues to learn exactly why the lens clouds.

Types

The types of cataracts include:

  • nuclear cataracts (aging clouds)
  • subcapsular (diabetic or steroid cloud)
  • cortical cataract gives eyes a milky appearance

All cataracts give similar warning signs.

Warning Signs

You may suffer from cataracts if you notice:

  • blurred vision that gradually gets worse
  • sensitivity to bright light, like sunlight
  • everything appears yellowish
  • decreased night vision
  • halos
  • double vision

Any or all of these symptoms warrant a call to the ophthalmologist.

Cataract Treatment

Cataracts cannot heal on their own and only progressively worsen over time, making treatment necessary.

For the short term you may be able to use stronger glasses or bifocals, but eventually, cataracts will require surgery. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced. This operation offers a promising success rate.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another one of the common causes of blurred vision affecting over 2 million Americans.

What Is Glaucoma

This condition refers to any disease that damages the optic nerve, leading to blindness.

What Causes It?

The damage to the optic nerve is often caused by diseases that create a build-up of intraocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye. Experts also link high blood pressure to glaucoma. Also, trauma or disease that increases eye pressure can potentially lead to glaucoma.

Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases that lead to the same optic nerve damage. The types include:

Open-Angle

The most prevalent form characterized by:

  • a wide-open angle between cornea and iris
  • drainage canals gradually clogging, increasing intraocular pressure
  • developing without symptoms

This form is chronic, which means it lasts the person’s entire life.

Angle-Closure

The characteristics of this condition include:

  • narrow-angle between cornea and iris
  • sudden blockage of drainage canals and rise in eye pressure
  • noticeable symptoms

This form comes on suddenly and requires immediate medical attention.

Normal Tension

This form creates a mystery as it is characterized by optic damage despite normal eye pressure.

Secondary

Secondary glaucoma means that diseases unrelated to the eye, medications, or injuries led to increased intraocular pressure and optic nerve damage.

Less Common Glaucomas

Other, less common, forms of this condition include:

  • Uveitic
  • Neovascular
  • Pigmentary
  • Exfoliative

All forms require medical intervention.

Warning Signs

You may suffer from glaucoma if you experience:

  • gradual or sudden blurred vision
  • headaches
  • severe eye pain
  • sudden loss of vision

Understanding the warning signs can help you salvage as much of your sight as possible.

Treatment Options

Your ophthalmologist will choose a treatment option for your glaucoma based on the type and progression of your disease. Possible treatments include:

  • pills or pressure reducing eye drops, including Prostaglandin analogs, Beta blockers, Alpha agonists, CAI’s, Epinephrine, and Rho kinase inhibitors
  • a Cryopass stent surgically inserted to open drainage canals
  • laser surgery that targets selective cells to help the eye regenerate itself

If you suspect that glaucoma is causing your hazy vision, contact the doctor right away; your sight is too precious to lose.

Macular Degeneration

Research shows that nearly 11 million Americans suffer from macular degeneration and it is the leading cause of impaired vision for Americans over 60.

What Is It?

As people age, the macula of the eye normally breaks down, making it increasingly more difficult to see.

Types

There are two types of this disease.

Atrophic

Also called dry, this form affects the vast majority of people suffering from the disease. Vision loss occurs gradually as the macula thins with age.

Exudative

Often referred to as wet, this form creates rapid vision loss due to abnormal blood vessels leaking into the back of the eye.

Warning Signs

You may suffer from macular degeneration if you’re over 60 and experience:

  • vision distortions
  • blurred central vision, but a fine peripheral vision
  • night vision that declines progressively
  • trouble adjusting to seeing in darker places
  • colors seeming duller
  • trouble recognizing familiar faces

Though aging causes this disease, do not simply accept that’s where you’re heading. Ignoring the symptoms leads to further permanent vision loss.

Treatment Options

Though you cannot reverse the damage, the ophthalmologist can help slow the process and optimize your remaining sight. Treatment includes:

  • nutritional supplements
  • medications such as Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin
  • photodynamic therapy
  • vision assistance

With treatment, people can enjoy the vision they still have for longer.

Problems with the Retina

Light triggers the retina to create electrical signals that get sent to the brain and create the images we see. Damage to the retina is one of the reasons for blurred vision.

The retina houses special cells called rods and cones and allows us to:

  • see shapes
  • detect movement
  • adjust to darkness
  • perceive color

Damage to this delicate area can affect one or more of these abilities. Here are some common problems with the retina that can result in blurred vision.

Tear or Detachment

If the retina tears and/or pulls away from where it should be, you may experience:

  • sudden blurry vision in one eye
  • floaters
  • flashes
  • progressively worse peripheral vision
  • shadowed vision

You should seek medical treatment immediately.

Treatment Options

Your doctor may choose to use:

  • cryopexy
  • pneumatic Retinopexy
  • laser surgery

Tears and detachments will not heal on their own, therefore requiring medical treatment.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes makes you 25 times more likely to go blind than somebody without diabetes. This is because the condition affects blood vessels.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy

This condition occurs when diabetes damages blood vessels in the retina due to frequent high glucose levels.

Warning Signs

You may suffer from this condition if you have diabetes and:

  • you experience blurred vision in both eyes
  • your vision remains blurry even after stabilization of glucose levels
  • see dark spots
  • see floaters
  • experience difficulty seeing color

If you experience these symptoms, your doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to determine the course of treatment.

Treatment Options

Treatment for this condition includes:

  • managing the diabetes
  • medications such as steroids and blood vessel growth inhibitors
  • vitrectomy
  • laser coagulation
  • laser surgery

If you have diabetes, you should keep regular visits with your eye doctor and follow their instructions, as this disease can lead to total blindness.

Other Eye Conditions

Other causes of blurred vision include:

Amblyopia

Also referred to as lazy eye, this condition occurs when underuse of the eye weakens the muscles that allow it to function properly. It mostly affects children, but can sometimes affect adults as well.

Characteristics include:

  • blurred vision
  • a wondering eye
  • crossed eyes
  • impaired depth perception

Since the muscle weakness and limited use of the eye can lead to chronic vision impairment, seek medical attention for corrective treatment, especially if your child suffers from a lazy eye.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when inadequate tear production causes the eye to dry out. This can happen as a result of clogged tear ducts, problems with the eyelids, certain medications, aging and/or menopause.

Warning signs include:

  • hazy vision
  • dryness
  • eye pain
  • redness
  • light sensitivity

You can try to treat this at home with eye drops. However, if this does not work, see the ophthalmologist to see if immunosuppressive drugs, glasses, or tear duct plugs will work for you.

Prevention

The absolute best way to keep your sight clear is to prevent eye problems to the best of your ability. Luckily, you can help prevent conditions that lead to blurred vision.

Quit Smoking

According to the CDC, smoking doubles your chances of developing macular degeneration and more than doubles your risk of developing cataracts.

Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

Ultraviolet rays and HEV rays can damage the eye. Never look directly into the sun and know that the clouds do not protect you from the harmful rays; they pass through even when light doesn’t.

Wear hats with large brims and sunglasses labeled 400UV to protect your eyes!

Prevent/Manage Diabetes

Diabetes significantly increases your risk of blindness and other conditions that lead to blurry vision. Prevent type II diabetes by:

  • exercising regularly
  • eating a balanced diet
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • controlling your blood pressure

If you have Type I diabetes, these lifestyle changes will not cure your disease, but they will help manage it to reduce your risk of vision loss and blindness. Make sure you check your sugar and take medications as directed.

See the Eye Doctor Regularly

Experts recommend seeing the eye doc every 1-2 years. This allows them to detect any asymptomatic problems early that can lead to blurred vision and eye damage in the future. Early detection can save your sight.

Looking Forward

Nearly all the causes of blurred vision require a look by the doctor. The sooner you receive treatment, the better the outlook for your sight.

If you have concerns about your visual health, contact Orlando eye doctors at Magruder Eye Institute at (407) 893-8200.

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