When vision becomes blurry, it can be unnerving to say the least. Any prescription contact or glasses-wearer knows the struggle of waking up in the morning to hazy vision ‒ and the unavoidable routine of searching around blindly with your hands to find your glasses so you can see again before crawling out of bed. Le sigh.
When NOT to Worry about Blurred Vision
In most cases, blurry vision is simply due to a vision deficiency, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. These are common issues that are pretty simple to correct with a prescription for eyewear.
If you already wear contacts and notice your vision is a little out of focus, it’s likely a sign that it’s time to renew your prescription. This can happen, as vision often worsens over time. This is totally normal, so don’t fret! Simply schedule a visit to your optometrist for an updated fitting.
When Blurred Vision May Mean Something More Serious
When vision becomes blurry suddenly, it may be a sign of something more hazardous to your health than an ill-fitting prescription. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, you should seek medical attention right away.
Some causes of sudden on-set blurry vision, which can occur in one or both eyes, include:
- Migraine headaches ‒ In this case, the blurry vision is just a side effect of the migraine, and is perhaps not even the worst part of these horrendous headaches. Luckily, once the headache clears up, vision should be restored to normal.
- Stroke ‒ Like a migraine, blurry vision in this case is probably the least of your medical concerns. Vision may become disrupted by a stroke due to the lack of oxygen in the brain, which can then damage neuro pathways that send signals to the eyeball. For some people this vision loss is temporary and will be restored following the stroke, though it may take a few months to be completely healed. In other cases, vision loss may be permanent.
- Eye infection or injury ‒ Trauma to the eyeball or an infection can both cause blurred vision. As the eye heals, normal vision should be restored. That said, it’s important to follow your physician’s treatment plan in order to ensure healing occurs as quickly and completely as possible.
- Retina detachment ‒ The retina may become detached for many different reasons. Whatever the cause, it can make vision immediately blurry. It’s important to know that a retina can also detach slowly over time, which means vision may also become blurry over time. A detached retina requires surgery to be corrected.
In other instances, blurry vision may set in more slowly, though it can still be indicative of a more serious health problem. Here are a few examples of such cases:
- Cataracts ‒ When the lens in the eyeball becomes opaque, or cloudy, it can cause blurred vision. This typically happens slowly over time; however, a fairly simple procedure can usually remove the cataracts and restore clear vision.
- Pterygium ‒ A slow forming, yellow scar on the sclera (the white part) of the eyeball, pterygium grow large enough that it begins to spread over the cornea. When this happens vision can become either blurred or obstructed. Surgery is usually the best way to treat this condition. Once the pterygium is removed, vision is restored.
- Diabetic Retinopathy ‒ We’ve talked about how diabetes can cause vision problems When blood sugar levels spike the retina can suffer damage. Over time, sustained retina damage can cause permanently blurred vision.
- Glaucoma ‒ Like cataracts, glaucoma can spread slowly over time. With it, vision slowly becomes blurred. This gradual change may take time for a person to recognize. Unfortunately, if damage spreads too far, it may be irreparable.
Whether you experience a loss of focus slowly over time, or your vision becomes blurred in only a few short days, it’s important to see your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. In nearly all cases, the sooner the cause is diagnosed, the quicker healing can occur. This can make a significant difference in whether your vision will return to normal or remain permanently blurred – so make that appointment!