Blurry Vision: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What is Blurred Vision?

Things looking hazy or out of focus? Vision problems are common nowadays and can make day-to-day life a real struggle. Some people experience blurry vision when looking at far away objects such as road signs or television subtitles. Other people find the opposite - they struggle to read things that are up close. Blurred vision can sometimes affect just one eye, sometimes both, and it can be temporary or long term. Any kind of unusual blurring can be a sign of other diseases or ailments, so it’s always best to get checked out by a doctor or eye specialist just in case.

What Causes Blurred Vision?

A blurring of vision can be caused by many different ailments or eye defects, from foreign bodies to infections, to old age. However, if you’re experiencing severe symptoms such as difficulty seeing, pain or if you are losing your vision completely, then seek medical attention immediately. 

The most common causes of blurred vision are refractive errors - myopia, hyperopia and presbyopia.

Myopia, Hyperopia and Presbyopia

Myopia is more commonly known as nearsightedness. People with myopia can often see things close to them whilst further away objects are blurred. Sufferers may notice they struggle to read writing on distant boards or screens, or see signs clearly whilst driving. It’s caused by a defect in the eye which retains the light at the front of the retina, whereas it would usually be directly on the retina. Myopia is diagnosed by an eye specialist during an eye exam, and glasses or contact lenses are often prescribed.

Hyperopia is sometimes known as hypermetropia or farsightedness. This is effectively the opposite to myopia, so people with this condition can see objects that are further away but struggle to see things that are close up. It happens because the light that enters the eye stays behind the retina instead of on it. Babies are often born farsighted but the condition can lessen as their eyes grow. Again, an eye examination will be able to diagnose this condition.

Presbyopia is a part of natural ageing for the majority of people. It refers to eye sight loss that comes with getting older. Ageing affects the muscle fibres around the eyes and the lenses, which can result in difficulty to focus on things that are close-up. It may affect the ability to read small print, so reading glasses can help.

Other Causes of Blurred Vision

  • Eye infections - Bacterial, fungi or viruses can cause infections in different parts of the eye. They can cause a range of other eye ailments such as swelling, watery eyes, and soreness, as well as blurred vision.
  • Dry eye - If blinking helps, dry eye could be the problem. Sometimes, the cornea (the clear film over the top of the eyeball) isn’t as lubricated as it needs to be. It is caused by many things including eye strain, medication, or a medical condition. Eye drops might help in some cases.
  • Migraines can affect vision for some people on a short-term basis. 
  • A corneal abrasion - Meaning a scratch to the eye. 
  • Optic neuritis - This is when the nerve fibres which carry information to the eyes become inflamed, often associated with MS (multiple sclerosis)
  • Retinitis pigmentosa - A collection of rare genetic disorders that can result in the breakdown of the retina cells (the thin piece of tissue at the back of the eye). It can cause difficulty seeing at night and loss of peripheral (side) vision.
  • Cataracts - More common in people over 40, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, making it harder to see clearly.
  • Diabetic retinopathy - A diabetic eye disease which affects the retina caused by high blood sugar levels.
  • Stroke - One of the signs of the onset of a stroke can be changes in eyesight. Sometimes following a stroke, people find their vision impaired because the nerves that carry information to the eyes have been damaged.
     

How to Keep Your Vision Healthy

  • Have regular eye exams
  • Give up smoking
  • Wash your hands when handling contact lenses
  • Use safety eyewear when necessary - such as when doing DIY, handling chemicals or doing physical sports
  • Wear sunglasses when out in the sun
  • Vitamin C and E, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids are good for eye health. These are in foods such as oysters, pork, oily fish, leafy vegetables such as kale, plus orange juice, beans, nuts and eggs.
  • Avoid prolonged periods on computers or using screens. Ensure you have a well set up workstation and take regular breaks away from your desk. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes or so, out of a window or somewhere far away for at least 20 seconds.

Looking after your eyes is an important part of health, whether you experience blurred vision or not. It’s as important as going for any other medical check-up or going to the dentist. Visit your local eye specialist today.

Experiencing blurry vision?

Check with an eye specialist today to find out if you need new glasses

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