Evidence Based

Blurred Vision in One Eye

Overview: Blurred Vision In One Eye

Blurred vision in one eye is a loss of vision that affects a single eye. Blurred vision can occur due to several different conditions ranging from minor to severe. 

Depending on the cause, blurry vision in one eye may affect a person’s ability to make out objects at a specific distance or any distance. 

Icon of an eyeball with a circle around it

Common Causes of Blurred Vision In One Eye

There are many common causes of blurry vision in one eye. Blurred vision in one eye may indicate disorders in the brain or central nervous systems, like headaches or optic neuritis.

Some common causes of blurred vision in one eye include:

Refractive errors

Refractive errors include nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). These are some of the most common causes of blurred vision in one eye.

Corneal abrasion

Corneal abrasion refers to trauma to the eye. This can occur through injury from a foreign object.


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Medications

Some medicines can lead to blurred vision in one eye. However, they would usually affect both eyes.

Diabetes (diabetic retinopathy)

Diabetes can lead to cataract or retinal conditions that result in blurred vision.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that causes a loss of vision in the macula. This is the part of the retina responsible for noticing detail in the central vision.

Cataracts

Cataracts is the loss of transparency or clouding in the lens of the eye.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes can lead to blurry sight issues.

Migraines

Conditions that occur in the brain, like migraines, can lead to the blurriness of the eyes.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness. Typically, presbyopia causes blurred vision up close in both eyes, but may be more pronounced in one eye if you have different refractive errors in each eye.

Conjunctivitis 

Otherwise known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the thin and transparent membrane that is the white part of the eye.

Eye strain

Eye strain occurs when eyes become tired from excessive use. This includes driving a car for long periods, working on the computer for a while, or reading for an extended time.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia refers to the high blood pressure and symptoms of liver or kidney damage that women experience after the 20th week of pregnancy. In rare cases, women can experience preeclampsia after giving birth. This is usually within 48 hours.

Giant cell (Temporal) arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is a type of vasculitis. This is the inflammation of the blood vessels. In giant cell arteritis, the blood vessels found near the temples are swollen and constricted. This condition typically affects people over the age of 50.

Keratitis

Keratitis is the result of eye injury, disease, infection, or wearing contact lenses for too long.

Psoriasis 

Psoriasis is an immune system health issue. Triggers include stress, infections, and a cold. The most common sign of psoriasis is a scaly rash on the skin.

Uveitis 

Uveitis is the inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. It is found between the sclera and retina. It affects the iris, ciliary body, the pars plana, and the choroid. It can sometimes also affect the retina.

Icon of an eyeball with a diagonal slash over it

Serious or Life-Threatening Causes of Blurred Vision In One Eye

In severe cases, blurry vision in one eye may indicate a severe or life-threatening condition that must be immediately evaluated in an emergency medical setting.

These conditions include:

  • Brain tumor. A brain tumor located in the temporal lobe, occipital lobe, or brain stem can cause vision problems. The most common is blurred or double vision.
  • Stroke. A stroke involving your eye causes blurry or loss of vision in only one eye. Other symptoms of a stroke may also occur. These include weakness on one side of your body or the inability to speak.
  • Detached retina. This is the detachment of the light-sensing layer inside the eyeball from the blood vessels transporting its oxygen and nutrients.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack. A transient ischemic attack leads to temporary stroke-like symptoms. This may indicate an impending stroke.
  • Optic neuritis. Optic neuritis is the inflammation of the optic nerve.
  • Eye injury. An eye injury must be assessed immediately by emergency medical help.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve of the eye. This is often caused by increased pressure in the eye.

Life-Threatening Symptoms of Blurry Vision

In some cases, blurred vision in one eye can be a sign of a medical emergency. Other severe symptoms that may coincide with blurry vision include:

  • A sudden change in vision 
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe eye pain
  • A change in the level of alertness or consciousness
  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body

Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 if you or anyone else experiences these blurry vision symptoms.

Risks & Complications of Blurry Vision In One Eye

In most cases, blurred vision in one eye isn’t caused by severe conditions or illnesses. However, in rare circumstances, blurry vision may link with a systemic disease or condition. If left untreated, this can lead to vision-threatening or life-threatening complications.

These can include:

  • Vision loss and blindness
  • Brain damage
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection
  • Unconsciousness

If you have blurry vision in one eye, contact your eye doctor to assess your condition's underlying cause. You may have to take an eye exam to determine the problems of your vision problems. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe you treatment to help.


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Author: Ellie Swain | UPDATED July 28, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON July 24, 2020
Resources

Vision problems, MedlinePlus, 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003029.htm

Corneal abrasion, Harvard Health Publishing, 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/corneal-abrasion-a-to-z

Conjunctivitis (pink eye), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/causes.html

Cataracts, National Eye Institute, 2019, https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts

Fredrick, Douglas R., Myopia., BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 324,7347, 2002, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123161/

Presbyopia, National Eye Institute, https://www.nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/Presbyopia.pdf

Age-related macular degeneration, National Eye Institute, 2019, https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration

Preeclampsia, MedlinePlus, 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000898.htm

Lee, Andrew W et al, Temporal arteritis., Neurology. Clinical practice vol. 4,2, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5765614/

Srinivasan, M et al., Distinguishing infective versus non infective keratitis., Indian journal of ophthalmology vol. 56,3, 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2636110/

Psoriasis, MedlinePlus, 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000434.htm

Eye strain, Health Direct, 2018, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/eye-strain

7 Warning Signs Of A Brain Tumor You Should Know, Weill Cornell Medicine Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, 2016, https://meyercancer.weill.cornell.edu/news/2016-12-22/7-warning-signs-brain-tumor-you-should-know

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