Serious Conditions And Other Factors That Cause Blurry Vision

March 10, 2021

Blurry vision, which is a change in an individual’s vision that makes images appear fuzzy and unclear, is quite common. In fact, millions of individuals around the world suffer from blurry vision. This can come on quite quickly or over time, and it can also be in only one eye or both eyes. Besides the standard factors that typically cause an individual’s vision to blur, such as aging or staring at a computer or television screen for extended periods, or even just feeling quite tired, blurry vision may be an indication of a more severe issue requiring prompt medical treatment before serious complications set in.

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Nearsightedness, otherwise known as myopia, is one of the most common vision issues in the world. Nearsighted individuals can see the objects close to them, but objects far away become blurry. This condition occurs when the eye's shape causes incorrect refracting of light rays. With normal vision, the rays focus on the retina, the light-sensing portion of the eye. This allows the eye to make out details and focus on objects. But in nearsighted individuals, light rays focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Nearsightedness often runs in families. It can develop on a gradual or rapid basis, and it tends to become worse during childhood and the teenage years. Nearsightedness can be confirmed through a basic eye exam. The vision blurriness individuals with this condition experience can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, refractive surgery, or contact lenses.

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Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is another common vision condition. A farsighted individual will be able to clearly see objects in the distance, but objects close to them will appear blurry. Different individuals with this condition will have different abilities to focus. With severe farsightedness, patients might only be able to see objects in the far distance, but those with a more mild form of the condition may be able to see closer objects. Farsightednes usually runs in families and tends to be present from birth. It can be corrected with contact lenses, eyeglasses, or surgery. Farsightedness occurs when the lens or cornea of the eye isn't smoothly and evenly curved, causing incorrect refraction of light. The cornea has a too-small curve or the eyeball itself is shorter than usual.

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Presbyopia is the medical term for the normal loss of focusing ability that happens as individuals age. The effects usually set in at some point after the age of forty. The first symptom patients tend to experience is trouble clearly seeing small print when reading books or trying to decipher text messages. Presbyopia happens to everyone, even if they've never had a vision problem before. Nearsighted individuals will also notice their close vision is beginning to become blurred in addition to their distance vision. The condition occurs when the eye's natural lens gradually thickens and loses flexibility, causing it to be unable to focus as well. The change is caused by proteins found within the lens, which cause the lens to lose its elasticity and become harder. There are also changes in the muscle fibers around the lens as individuals age. Specifically, they become tighter and don't have as large a range of motion, further complicating the ability to focus.

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Astigmatism is another common eye condition that causes blurry vision. It's caused by an imperfection in the eye's lens or cornea curvature. In an individual with 20/20 vision, the lens and cornea are smooth and curve equally across every direction. If there isn't a smooth, even curve, there's a problem with the refraction of light. Corneal astigmatism is caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea. Lenticular astigmatism is caused by a distorted lens shape. Unlike myopia or hyperopia, astigmatism causes both far and near objects to seem distorted and blurry. However, the condition can sometimes occur alongside myopia or hyperopia. If astigmatism isn't diagnosed and corrected, it can impact a child's ability to function in sports and school. Regular eye exams are important for developing children.

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Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines are migraine headaches that cause temporary blindness or vision loss in one eye. The vision issue typically resolves itself within an hour. This kind of migraine may occur after or alongside a typical migraine headache. Ocular migraines are rare. If individuals experience blurriness or vision loss during or after migraines, they should have a doctor evaluate them to rule out other potential conditions. Regular migraine headaches may also present with vision problems. These 'auras' may cause patients to see flashing lights or experience blind spots. Unlike ocular migraines, though, migraine auras typically occur in both eyes instead of just one. Researchers don't currently know the exact cause of ocular migraines. One theory is there are spasms in the retina's blood vessels, and another is that changes spread across the retina's nerve cells.

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Cataracts is a condition in which the affected eye's lens is clouded. When individuals view an object, rays of light travel into the eye through the pupil and focus through the lens and then the retina. The lens has to be clear in order for it to properly focus light into the retina. If an individual's vision starts to become cloudy, dim, blurry, or if things are just not as bright and colorful as they once were, a cataract may have started to form in one or both of the eyes. Many describe vision with cataracts is comparable to looking through a dirty windshield of a vehicle.

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Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes optic nerve damage. The optic nerve sends images from the retina to the brain so things can be seen. With glaucoma, eye pressure can damage the fragile nerve fibers of the optic nerve. When an increased number of nerve fibers are impaired, blind spots will start to develop in the individual's field of vision, and this can often include blurry vision at certain points. Once nerve damage and visual loss take place, it is irreversible.

Many patients do not notice these blind spots until an abundance of optic nerve damage has already ensued and when the whole nerve is destroyed, blindness is the result. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the world, particularly in older adults. The only prevention is early detection and treatment by an ophthalmologist.

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Blurry vision is often a red flag indicating the onset of diabetes. An individual's vision may become blurred as fluid begins to leak into the lens of the eye, making it swell and changing its natural shape. This sudden change makes it difficult for the eye or eyes to focus on objects, which often makes them appear blurry. Blurred vision may also occur for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes, particularly when these patients are beginning insulin treatments. Blurred vision caused by insulin typically resolves itself in a matter of weeks once blood sugar levels begin to stabilize.

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Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm is a frightening condition in which an artery in the brain begins to bulge. Brain aneurysms can become life-threatening if the artery bursts and starts to leak blood into the brain, which is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Developing a sudden, severe headache is the most notable symptom of a brain aneurysm, it has also been known to cause blurred or double vision, along with nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizure, stiffness in the neck, and even sensitivity to light.

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A transient ischemic attack, which is often referred to as a mini-stroke, is caused by a temporary blockage in the flow of blood to the brain. Though some believe it is nothing serious to worry about, reports indicate about one in three individuals who experience one of these mini-strokes will eventually suffer a full stroke, which means it is a serious warning sign. A transient ischemic attack can cause hazy, blurring of vision when blood stops flowing to the brain. Though this kind of event does not kill brain cells as a real stroke does, even one transient ischemic attack can result in numbness in an arm or leg, fatigue, lack of balance, trouble speaking, and sudden rise in blood pressure; and possibly a loss of consciousness or temporary memory loss.

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Autoimmune Diseases

Some autoimmune diseases can also be the underlying cause of an individual's blurry vision. One such condition is systemic lupus erythematosus, which is when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. Multiple sclerosis, another serious autoimmune condition, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and has also been linked to blurry vision. Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, causes weakness in the body’s muscles and patients dealing with it have noted blurry vision as a symptom as well.

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There are a wide array of medications that list blurry vision as one of their side effects. Some of them include antihistamines, which are typically taken to ease allergy symptoms and can increase pressure inside the eye, particularly in individuals with glaucoma, and corticosteroids, which are used to treat conditions such as arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and severe allergies. Corticosteroids can also increase an individual's eye pressure and this we know is a large risk factor in the development of glaucoma or cataracts. Patients should always speak with a doctor if they experience blurry vision when taking any medication. In some instances, doctors will be able to find a suitable alternative for the patients that will not result in this side effect.

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