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Common Causes of Blurry Vision

Blurry vision is a common problem experienced by people of all ages and can have various causes. Our optometrists have encountered numerous cases of blurry vision and has compiled a list of some of the most common causes to help you better understand this condition. Keep in mind that each cause is unique, and a comprehensive eye examination is essential to pinpoint the specific reason for your blurry vision.

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Refractive errors

Refractive errors are the leading blurry vision cause and affect millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 153 million people globally suffer from visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors. The most common causes of blurry vision related to refractive errors include:

Myopia (nearsightedness)

This occurs when the eye is longer than normal or the cornea is too curved, causing light to focus in front of the retina. Myopia affects nearly 30% of the US population, making it a prevalent cause of blurry vision. Learn more about myopia and the importance of controlling the progression in children.

Hyperopia (farsightedness)

This happens when the eye is shorter than normal or the cornea is too flat, causing light to focus behind the retina. Approximately 5-10% of the US population has hyperopia, contributing to the causes of blurry vision. Learn more about farsightedness.

Astigmatism

An irregularly shaped cornea or lens can cause astigmatism, leading to blurred vision at all distances. Around 30% of the US population has some degree of astigmatism, making it another common cause of blurry vision. Learn more about astigmatism.

Presbyopia

Age-related loss of flexibility in the lens results in difficulty focusing on close objects. Nearly 100% of people over the age of 45 experience presbyopia to some extent. Learn more about presbyopia.

Dry eyes

Chronic dry eye syndrome is characterized by insufficient tear production or poor tear quality. This leads to irritation, discomfort, and, in severe cases, blurred vision. It is estimated that around 4.9 million Americans aged 50 and above suffer from dry eye syndrome, making it a notable cause of blurry vision. Learn more about dry eyes.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. In the early stages, glaucoma causes peripheral vision loss, which can progress to central vision loss and eventually blindness if left untreated. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, approximately 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are aware of their condition. Learn more about glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels in the retina, causing blurry vision or even vision loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that over 7.7 million Americans aged 40 and above have diabetic retinopathy, contributing to the causes of blurry vision. Learn more about diabetic retinopathy.

Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and above. It affects the central part of the retina, known as the macula, causing blurry or distorted central vision. An estimated 14 million people in the US suffer from some form of AMD. Learn more about macular degeneration.

Eye infections and inflammation

Conditions like conjunctivitis (pink eye), uveitis (inflammation of the uvea), and corneal ulcers can cause blurry vision due to inflammation, swelling, or scarring. Proper diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial in preventing long-term damage to your vision.

Retinal detachment

A retinal detachment is a medical emergency where the retina separates from the back of the eye, leading to blurry vision, floaters, and flashes of light. If not treated promptly, retinal detachment can result in permanent vision loss. The American Society of Retina Specialists estimates that approximately 1 in 10,000 people experience a retinal detachment each year, adding to the list of blurry vision causes.

Optic neuritis

Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve, often associated with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis. It can cause sudden vision loss or blurriness, along with pain upon eye movement. The prevalence of optic neuritis is estimated to be around 1-5 cases per 100,000 people.

Migraines

Migraines are severe headaches often accompanied by visual disturbances, including blurry vision, blind spots, and zigzag patterns. Migraine-related blurry vision typically affects both eyes and resolves once the headache subsides. The Migraine Research Foundation states that about 12% of the US population suffers from migraines, contributing to the causes of blurry vision.

Floaters

Floaters are small, shadowy specks or strands that float in the vitreous gel within the eye. They can cause temporary blurry vision when they cross the line of sight. Although generally harmless, a sudden increase in floaters can indicate a more serious condition, such as retinal detachment, and warrants immediate medical attention from our optometrist. Learn more about flashes and floaters.

Eye strain and fatigue

Prolonged screen time, reading, or other close-up work can strain the eye muscles, leading to blurry vision, headaches, and discomfort. The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away to reduce eye strain, helping to alleviate this cause of blurry vision. Learn more about eye strain.

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How can I find an eye doctor near me?

If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist, you could start your online search by typing in phrases such as "eye doctor near me," "optometrist near me," or "eye specialist near me."

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Common Questions

The most common cause of blurred vision is refractive errors, which include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia. These errors occur when the eye's shape or the cornea's curvature prevents light from focusing correctly on the retina, resulting in blurred vision. Refractive errors can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.
You should worry about blurry vision if it occurs suddenly, is accompanied by pain, redness, or other unusual symptoms, or affects only one eye. These signs can indicate a potentially serious eye condition requiring immediate medical attention from our eye doctor.
To get rid of blurred vision, you first need to identify its cause. For refractive errors, corrective lenses or refractive surgery can help. Other causes, such as cataracts or glaucoma, may require medication or surgery. Dry eyes or eye strain may be relieved with artificial tears, lifestyle changes, or the 20-20-20 rule.
Blurry vision recovery depends on the cause. In many cases, such as refractive errors, cataracts, or dry eyes, treatment can help restore clear vision. However, if the underlying cause is a progressive condition, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma, vision loss may be irreversible.
Some blurry vision causes can be improved naturally with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and practicing good eye hygiene. However, many causes, including refractive errors or eye diseases, require professional intervention from our optometrist for optimal outcomes.
Prolonged phone use can cause blurry vision due to eye strain and digital eye strain (also known as computer vision syndrome). Staring at screens for extended periods can lead to eye discomfort, dryness, and blurred vision. Taking regular breaks, adjusting screen brightness, and maintaining a proper viewing distance can help alleviate these issues. Cell phone use can also exacerbate the symptoms of dry eye due to reduced frequency and fullness of blinking.
Vitamin A is particularly important for eyesight, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining the retina's health and helps with low-light vision. Other vitamins and nutrients beneficial for eye health include vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Speak to our optometrist about specific recommendations for your eyes.
The best medicine for blurry vision depends on the underlying cause. For refractive errors, corrective lenses or refractive surgery are the primary treatments. Prescription eye drops or oral medications may be needed for conditions like glaucoma or uveitis. In some cases, surgery may be required, such as for cataracts or retinal detachment. Dry eye treatment will depend on the root cause of your dry eye. Always consult our eye care professional for the appropriate treatment based on your specific condition.
Stress can indeed cause blurry vision. It might affect the eye muscles and lead to temporary focusing issues. If you're experiencing persistent blurry vision, seeing an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam can help pinpoint any underlying conditions that need treatment.
Over-the-counter eye drops might temporarily relieve blurry vision caused by dry eyes, but they aren't a cure-all. It's essential to consult an eye doctor to determine the exact cause of the blurriness, as different conditions require different treatments. They can prescribe appropriate eye drops or other treatments as needed.
Lack of sleep can result in blurry vision due to the eyes not getting enough rest. The symptoms usually alleviate with proper rest, but if the issue continues, it might be wise to schedule a visit with an optometrist. Comprehensive eye exams can rule out other underlying problems that might be causing the symptom.
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It's important to remember that each case of blurry vision is unique, and a comprehensive eye examination is essential to determine the specific cause. We encourage you to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and see our eye doctor if you experience any sudden changes in your vision.

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