Blurry Vision: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
What is Blurred Vision?
Things looking hazy or out of focus? Vision problems affect a bit over half the population and can make day-to-day life a real struggle. Some people experience blurry vision when looking far away such as road signs or television, others struggle to read things that are up close and others still experience blur wherever they look. Blurred vision can sometimes affect just one eye, sometimes both, and it can be temporary or long term. Any kind of blur can be a sign of eye disease so it’s always best to get it checked out by your optometrist just in case.
WHAT CAUSES BLURRED VISION?
Blurred vision can be caused by many different issues with your eye, from foreign bodies to infections and the ageing process. However, if you experience sudden or severe symptoms of blur, pain, redness or you seem to be missing parts of your vision or it is distorted, then see your optometrist immediately.
Myopia, Hyperopia and Presbyopia
Myopia commonly known as short-sightedness. People with myopia can see things clearly at a certain close distance but objects further away are blurred. Sufferers may notice they struggle to read writing on white boards or TV screens or have difficulty driving especially in low light or at night. It’s caused by light focusing in front of the retina, in other words it falls "too short", thus the name. Myopia is diagnosed by an optometrist during an eye exam, and glasses or contact lenses can be prescribed.
Hyperopia is also known as hypermetropia or long-sightedness. People with this error can see objects that are further away but will have difficulty close up. It happens because the light that entering the eye gets to a focus behind the retina instead of on it, in other words it falls "too long". Again, an eye test will be able to diagnose this condition.
Presbyopia is a part of natural ageing process. It refers to the loss of the ability to focus on close tasks that comes with getting older. Ageing affects the lens of the eye which grows throughout our life, the result is difficulty to focus on things that are close-up, such as small print. A variety of modern lenses are available to make vision clear again.
Other Causes of Blurred Vision
- Eye infections - Bacterial, fungal or viral infections can occur in different parts of the eye. Associated with these are symptoms such as swelling, watery eyes and pain, as well as blurred vision.
- Dry eye - If blinking helps clear your vision, dry eye could be the problem. Sometimes, the cornea (the clear window on the front of the eye) isn’t as lubricated as it needs to be. It is caused by many things including disfunction of certain glands in the eyelids, medication, or even some medical conditions. There's an array of treatments available today that help manage this condition.
- Migraines for people who suffer these headaches may or may not suffer from blurred vision as a sign that a migraine is about to occur.
- A corneal abrasion - a scratch to the front of the eye, this usually occurs with small foreign bodies (grit, etc. or even particles from doing handyman tasks without eye protection).
- Optic neuritis - This is when the optic nerve, whose fibres carry information from the eyes to the brain become inflamed. This can be associated with MS (multiple sclerosis)
- Retinitis pigmentosa - A collection of rare genetic disorders that result in the breakdown of retinal cells (the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). It causes difficulty seeing at night and loss of peripheral (side) vision often called "tunnel vision".
- Cataracts - More common in people over 60, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, making it harder to see clearly.
- Diabetes- high blood sugar levels in diabetes, when it is not well controlled, may affect the retina causing blurred vision .
- Stroke - vision changes can be one of the signs of the onset of a stroke . Sometimes following a stroke, people find their vision impaired because the nerves that carry information from the eyes to the brain have been damaged.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR VISION HEALTHY
- Have a regular eye test with your optometrist
- Stop smoking
- Always wear sunglasses when out in the sun
- Ensure you follow a good diet - 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
- Use safety eyewear when necessary - such as when doing DIY, handling chemicals or doing physical sports
- 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.
- Wash your hands before touching your eyes or before handling contact lenses
Looking after your eyes is an important part of looking after your health, whether you experience blurred vision or not. It’s as important as going for your regular medical or dental check-up. Visit your local optometrist today.
Experiencing blurry vision?
Check with an eye specialist today to find out if you need new glasses