Blurry Vision - Causes, Treatment & When to See a Dr

12 sources cited
Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

What is Blurry Vision?

Having blurry vision is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. It makes it difficult to see your surroundings clearly.

If you have this symptom, see your eye doctor for an exam. Treating the underlying condition can usually improve this symptom. However, blurred vision can be permanent depending on the underlying condition you have.

11 Causes of Blurry Vision (and Their Treatments)

These are common conditions that can cause blurry vision:

Refractive errors

Refractive errors are a common vision problem that affects over 150 million Americans.10 Common causes of refractive errors include:

  • Eyeball length being too long or too short
  • Cornea (clear covering in front of the eye) being irregularly shaped
  • Genetics
  • Aging lenses (inner part of the eye that helps it focus)

The four types of refractive errors include:

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

Myopia makes it difficult to see objects when they’re far away, while hyperopia makes nearby objects look blurry. Astigmatism makes objects appear distorted regardless of their distance

Presbyopia commonly affects people 40 years old and above. It makes nearby objects look blurry.

Common symptoms of refractive errors include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing glares or halos around bright lights
  • Constant squinting
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Trouble focusing on objects

Doctors typically treat refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses. These are the more accessible and affordable options. However, you can also get laser eye surgery.

Laser eye surgery can change the shape of your cornea to fix the refractive error. Talk to your eye doctor to see if this is the best option for you.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes don't produce enough tears or if tears dry up too fast. Some medications for other health conditions can also cause dry eyes.

Dry eyes are a common condition affecting millions of Americans every year.6 It can cause discomfort and vision problems. Symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • A scratchy feeling in the eye
  • Stinging or burning
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity

People are more likely to get dry eyes if they:

  • Are over 50 years old
  • Wear contact lenses
  • Are deficient in vitamin A or Omega-3
  • Have lupus or other autoimmune conditions

Doctors treat dry eye syndrome by prescribing over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops, gels, or ointments. If the condition is more serious, they can prescribe medications like Restasis or Xiidra. 

Doctors can also recommend tear duct plugs if your tears drain too quickly from your eyes. You put them in the small holes in the inner corners of your eyes to keep tears from draining too quickly.

Dry eye syndrome can result from loosening of the skin of the lower eyelids. In cases like this, doctors may recommend surgery. However, this is an uncommon form of treatment.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause fluid retention, which can make the cornea thicker. An increase in progesterone can also cause the corneal tissues to soften.

These vision changes can result in blurry vision. They are usually temporary and return to normal after giving birth. However, some women find these changes permanent.

Doctors recommend women wait between 6 to 9 months after childbirth before making changes to their eye prescription.9 This gives the eyes enough time to fully adjust.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also called pink eye. It occurs when the conjunctiva is irritated by an infection or an allergic reaction.

Symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Red and swollen eyes
  • Sticky discharge
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, but bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are. You can get infected by viral or bacterial conjunctivitis by:

  • Having hand-to-eye contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids
  • Not cleaning contact lenses properly
  • Having poorly fitted contact lenses

Viral conjunctivitis has no specific treatments. The body fights the infection on its own. However, you can place a wet washcloth over your eyes to decrease your discomfort.

Doctors will treat bacterial conjunctivitis by prescribing antibiotic eye drops. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is treated by using eye drops to help with itchiness and puffiness until it goes away.

Eye floaters

Eye floaters are dark spots that float or disrupt your vision. They’re made of a protein called collagen and can look like specks or strings.

Floaters will move as the eye moves. If you try to look directly at them, they move away. When you stop moving your eyes, eye floaters will drift across your line of sight again.

Most floaters go away on their own and don’t need treatment. However, sometimes they can be a sign of a more serious eye condition. These include:

  • Eye infections
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Vitreous detachment (the gel-like fluid that fills your eye separates from the retina)
  • Retinal tear
  • Retinal detachment 

If you notice the floaters don’t go away, tell your eye doctor immediately.

Doctors will treat eye floaters by treating the underlying eye condition causing them. In some cases, doctors will recommend surgery. They will only suggest this if the eye floaters interfere with daily activities. 

Keratoconus

Keratoconus is a type of corneal dystrophy diagnosed in teens and young adults. Corneal dystrophies are eye diseases caused by changes in the cornea. These diseases are usually genetic.

A normal cornea has a rounded shape, while a cornea with keratoconus can bulge outward and become a cone shape. This different cornea shape can cause vision problems and eye pain.

Symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Double vision
  • Nearsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Light sensitivity

Treatments for keratoconus involve prescription glasses, soft contact lenses, or special hard contact lenses to change the shape of the cornea.

Doctors can also recommend a procedure called corneal cross-linking, which strengthens the cornea. If it’s difficult to wear contact lenses or the cornea has severe scarring, you may need a corneal transplant.

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye's natural lens becomes cloudy. They are most commonly caused by aging. People who are 40 years old and above are more prone to this condition.

Symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity especially during the evening
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing bright colors as faded

Cataracts can only be treated with surgery. If the symptoms aren’t disrupting your quality of life, a doctor may not recommend it. Instead, they can prescribe eyeglasses to help you see better.

More Serious Eye Conditions and Diseases

Some more serious eye conditions that can cause blurry vision include:

Glaucoma

Glaucoma happens due to a buildup of fluid in the front part of your eye. The increased pressure damages the optic nerve.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over 60 years old.3 But this can be prevented with early treatment.

Two types of glaucoma include:

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma

Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is painless and doesn’t cause vision changes at first.

Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when your iris is close to the eye’s drainage angle, which releases the inner fluid of the eye. The iris can block the drainage angle, causing pressure to build up quickly or slowly over time.

A quick build-up of pressure is called an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack. Signs of an attack include:

  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Severe eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seeing rainbow-colored halos around lights 

Angle-closure glaucoma has no obvious symptoms during the early stages. When it progresses, you can develop blind spots in your peripheral vision.

There is no treatment for damage caused by glaucoma. However, medicine and surgery can stop further damage from happening.

Doctors can prescribe eye drop medicines to lower eye pressure. They can also recommend laser eye surgery.

The two types of surgery are trabeculoplasty and iridotomy for primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma respectively.

AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition and it’s one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 50 years old.4 It occurs when a part of your retina is damaged.

AMD can cause you to lose your central vision. This means you’re unable to see fine details if you’re looking at something regardless of its distance. AMD doesn’t affect peripheral vision.

Two types of AMD include dry and wet AMD. Dry AMD is more common, with over 80% of people with AMD having it.4 

Wet AMD is less common but more serious. You can lose vision faster with wet AMD. 

Most people only realize they have AMD when their vision gets blurry. Other symptoms of AMD include:

  • Straight lines seeming bent and other visual distortions
  • Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
  • Needing brighter light for reading or looking at things up close
  • The blurriness of printed words
  • Inability to adapt to dim light

Dry AMD has no treatment. However, doctors recommend taking supplements, which include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Zinc
  • Copper

Ask your doctor for the proper dose of each supplement.

Doctors treat wet AMD with medications called anti-VEGF drugs. These reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, which causes damage to your vision.


Doctors can also recommend surgery. This involves using a laser on the abnormal blood vessels to reduce their number and slow their leaking.

Detached Retina

A detached retina occurs when the retina lifts away from the back of the eye. It causes blurry vision. It can also cause vision loss without immediate treatment.

Other symptoms indicating a detached retina include:

  • Suddenly seeing flashing lights similar to “seeing stars”
  • A sudden increase in new eye floaters
  • A shadow disrupting your peripheral vision
  • Seeing a grayish curtain disrupting your field of vision

Doctors perform surgery to treat a detached retina. The three kinds of surgery they can do are:

  • Pneumatic retinopexy
  • Vitrectomy
  • Scleral buckle

These can come with risks, which include:

  • Eye infection
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Increased pressure in the eye
  • Cataracts
  • Needing second surgery
  • A chance of the procedure failing
  • A chance of the retina detaching again

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy happens when blood vessels in the retina swell, leak, or close off. It also happens when abnormal new blood vessels appear on the surface of the retina.

People who have diabetes are prone to diabetic retinopathy. The risk also increases the longer someone has diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms affect both eyes. These include:

  • Blurry vision
  • An increase in eye floaters
  • Alternating clear and blurry vision
  • Seeing blank or dark spots in your field of vision
  • Seeing poorly at night
  • Colors looking faded
  • Vision loss

Doctors treat diabetic retinopathy by administering anti-VEGF medication. They can also advise you to control your blood sugar by following a diet and taking medication for diabetes.

Laser surgery can also treat diabetic retinopathy. Doctors will seal off leaking blood vessels, which can reduce swelling in the retina.

When to See a Doctor

Regular visits to an eye doctor are important to maintain eye health. If you’re taking medications for specific eye conditions, schedule a doctor’s visit every 3 to 6 months or as your doctor instructs.

You should also see your doctor if your blurred vision affects your quality of life or if you notice other symptoms occurring.

Home Remedies for Blurry Vision

You can alleviate blurry vision by using brighter lights during reading and other activities. Protect your eyes from UV light by wearing sunglasses and a hat outdoors.

Avoid driving at night if you’re seeing halos or glares around lights. Keep your contacts or eyeglasses prescription updated.

If you have diabetes, make sure you’re controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Avoid smoking or quit altogether.

Eat eye-healthy foods. These include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Yellow fruits and vegetables
  • Fish
  • Lean meat and poultry

Drink plenty of water and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Limit your screen time or take frequent breaks from staring at screens.

Professional Treatment Options

Professional treatments for blurry vision depend on the eye condition you have. A doctor will perform an eye exam to diagnose your condition and will adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

Some professional treatment options include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Soft or hard contact lenses
  • Medications
  • Surgery 
12 Cited Research Articles
  1. Boyd, K. “Detached Retina.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 14 Sept. 2021
  2. Boyd, K. “What Are Cataracts?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 13 Sept. 2021
  3. Boyd, K. “What Is Glaucoma? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 22 Sept. 2021
  4. Boyd, K. “What Is Macular Degeneration?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 10 Feb. 2022
  5. Corneal Dystrophies.” National Eye Institute, NIH, 26 June 2019
  6. Dry eye.” National Eye Institute, NIH, 9 Apr. 2022
  7. Floaters.” National Eye Institute, NIH, 22 Sept. 2020
  8. Gregori, NZ. “Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 14 Sept. 2021
  9. How Pregnancy Impacts your Vision.” Canadian Association of Optometrists
  10. Pregnancy and blindness and vision impairment.” Royal College of Nursing, 5 Jan. 2022
  11. “Refractive Errors.” National Eye Institute, NIH, 10 June 2022
  12. Turbert, D. “Blurriness.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 25 Jan. 2021
Vision Center Logo
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

All about Vision Center

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram