Trouble Focusing Eyes

7 sources cited
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Having trouble focusing on objects is called accommodative dysfunction. Your eyes can't shift their focus from one object to another without experiencing blurry vision.

Visually demanding tasks, like reading or looking at screens for a long time, can cause this condition.

Trouble Focusing Eyes: Other Symptoms

If you have trouble focusing your eyes, you may also have blurry vision. This can affect one or both eyes.

Other eye symptoms associated with eye focusing problems include:

  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Double vision
  • Floating specks in front of your eyes (eye floaters)

Alternatively, cloudy vision is when objects appear ‘milky’ and obscured. It's similar to blurry vision.

Trouble Focusing Eyes

If you have blurry vision and are unsure of its cause, visit an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye examination.

Trouble Focusing Eyes: Common Causes

Eye focusing problems can also be a symptom of other eye conditions. Here are some of them:

Refractive Errors

The main causes of eye focusing problems and blurry vision are refractive errors. These include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia

They're commonly treated with an eyeglasses or contacts prescription.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Spending long periods using a screen can tire your eyes. This tiredness can lead to a blurry field of vision. 

Using screens does not cause permanent damage to your eye health. However, it is a demanding visual system task that can lead to eye discomfort.

If you have an uncorrected vision issue, this can make screen use uncomfortable. It can also lead to blurry vision, eye strain, or dry eyes.

Astigmatism

Most people have astigmatism, but the condition varies between individuals. It occurs when the cornea has an abnormal curve. The more your cornea is formed like a rugby ball, the worse your vision will be.

Astigmatism is also caused by other factors, which include:

  • Abnormalities of the lens
  • Issues from a lens transplant
astigmatism sphere

Astigmatism treatments include laser refractive surgery. This adjusts the shape of the cornea. Patients can also opt for lens implants with an astigmatic correction.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a common condition that makes seeing challenging at a typical reading distance. As we age, the lens loses its flexibility and cannot adjust its shape and focus.

Presbyopia is first noticed from 40 to 45 years and worsens between the ages of 45 and 65. From 65 years onwards, an individual’s presbyopia is unlikely to decline.

graphic showing normal eye and presbyopia

Presbyopia is treated with eyeglasses or contacts prescriptions. Multifocals, bifocals, or half-glasses enable you to do close-up work and view distant objects. New laser and cataract surgery can also treat presbyopia. 

From the ages of 45 up to 65, your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription is likely to change. Have an eye examination every two to three years to review your correction and eye health.

Corneal Abrasion

Your cornea is the transparent covering on the front of your eye. When it gets injured or scratched, you may develop corneal abrasion. Vision may become blurry, and it may feel like there is something in your eye.

Pink Eye

Otherwise known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an infection of the outer lining of your eye. A virus typically causes it, but it can also result from the spread of bacteria or allergies.

High Blood Sugar

Extremely high blood sugar levels can cause the lens of your eye to swell. This can lead to blurred vision. People with diabetes are prone to experiencing this.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness among older people. The condition can often lead to blurry vision and visual distortions that cause straight lines to appear wavy or broken.

Macular Degeneration

Cataracts

Blurred or cloudy vision may be warning signs of cataracts. It occurs when the lens in your eye develops cloudy patches. Glare and halos around lights at night may also be warning signs of cataracts.

Cataracts

If left untreated, cataracts can worsen and potentially lead to blindness. Cataract surgery replaces cataracts with artificial lenses, which typically restores lost vision. 

Serious Causes of Sudden Vision Changes

Some causes of sudden vision changes are medical emergencies. These must be treated as soon as possible to prevent permanent vision loss or damage.

Stroke

Blurry or lost vision in both eyes can occur when you experience a stroke. It affects the area of your brain that controls vision.

A stroke involving your eyes leads to blurred or lost vision in just one eye. You may also have other symptoms of a stroke, like weakness in one side of your body or the inability to speak.

Detached Retina 

A detached retina occurs when your retina detaches from the back of your eye. When this happens, you may see black spots or flashes of light. It's often followed by blurred or absent vision. 

Without emergency treatment, permanent vision loss may occur. 

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIAs)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a stroke lasting less than 24 hours. One of its symptoms can be having blurred vision in one or both eyes.

Treatment For Sudden Blurry Vision 

Treatment for sudden blurry vision depends on the condition affecting your eyesight. Not all causes of sudden blurry vision require urgent medical treatment.

Call 911 if you think your sudden blurry vision means you're having a stroke or you have a detached retina.

If you have unexplained sudden blurry vision, seek medical advice from a healthcare provider, ophthalmologist, or optometrist as soon as possible, even if it has passed.

Summary

Having trouble focusing your eyes can mean a lot of things. There are different symptoms and causes associated with this condition. Knowing their symptoms and causes can help determine whether your condition is serious. It can also help determine whether you need immediate medical attention.

7 Cited Research Articles
  1. "Accommodative dysfunction." American Optometric Association.
  2. "Age-Related Macular Degeneration." National Eye Institute (NEI), 2021.
  3. "Focusing Problems." College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
  4. "Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020. 
  5. "Retinal Detachment." National Eye Institute (NEI), 2022.
  6. "Stroke." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022.
  7. "Warning signs of a serious eye problem." Harvard Health Publishing.
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