Clear, sharp vision is easy to take for granted until your eyesight gets hazy. Unfortunately, there are many causes of blurry vision—some minor, some quite serious—and treatment depends entirely on the underlying cause. That’s why it’s important to schedule an eye examination if you experience sudden or ongoing blurry vision. Your eye doctor will be able to determine what’s causing hazy vision and recommend treatment or medication.
In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the common underlying causes of blurry vision and how they are treated. Keep in mind that treatment may vary depending on factors such as your age and overall health, so talk to an eye doctor to make a plan for improving your vision.
Myopia, better known as nearsightedness, is one of the most common refractive eye errors. People who are nearsighted are able to see well up-close but have difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. Myopia symptoms may include:
- Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
- Excessive blinking and squinting
- Headaches caused by eye strain
What causes myopia?
Myopia occurs when light focuses in front of, instead of on, the retina. Light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly, causing distant objects to look hazy. While the exact cause is unknown, evidence suggests that nearsightedness may be inherited. Individuals who experience considerable eye strain working at a computer or doing other close visual work may also be more likely to develop myopia.
How is nearsightedness treated?
Myopia is most commonly corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery is another option for treating nearsightedness that can reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses and contacts.
If you only experience fuzzy vision up-close, you may have hyperopia, also known as farsightedness. In cases of severe hyperopia, distant objects may also appear blurry. Hyperopia symptoms may include:
- Foggy vision when looking at nearby objects
- You need to squint to see distant or nearby objects clearly
- Headaches caused by eye strain
What causes hyperopia?
Farsightedness occurs when light rays focus beyond the retina instead of on it, which makes near objects appear blurry. Like myopia, farsightedness is usually inherited.
How is farsightedness treated?
Farsightedness can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive eye surgery.
Astigmatism is another common refractive error in the family of nearsightedness and farsightedness. People with astigmatism generally have fuzzy vision at all distances. Astigmatism symptoms may include:
- Nearby and distant objects appear blurry or distorted
- You need to squint to see clearly
- Headaches caused by eye strain
What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism is the result of an irregular curvature of the cornea or lens. In most cases, people are born with astigmatism, although it can also develop because of an eye disease, eye injury, or surgery.
How is astigmatism treated?
Like other refractive eye conditions, astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
Presbyopia is the gradual loss of near focusing ability. This condition is a normal part of the aging process; most people begin noticing the effects of presbyopia shortly after age 40. The effects of presbyopia are similar to the symptoms of farsightedness:
- Blurry vision up close
- Squinting at a normal reading distance
- Headaches or fatigue from eye strain
What causes presbyopia?
Although presbyopia is often confused with farsightedness, the causes are different: presbyopia occurs when the lens loses flexibility with age, whereas farsightedness is caused by a misshaped eyeball or cornea. Presbyopia is also part of the aging process, compared to farsightedness which is typically an inherited vision problem.
How is presbyopia treated?
If presbyopia is your only vision problem, eyeglasses or contact lenses can help restore your vision. Talk to your eye doctor before purchasing OTC reading glasses to determine if stronger prescription glasses or lenses are needed. You may also consider refractive surgery to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses and contacts.
Chronic Dry Eyes
Tears are necessary for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t produce enough tears to naturally lubricate and nourish the eye. Symptoms of chronic dry eyes include:
- Blurry vision
- Irritated, scratchy, or burning eyes.
- A “foreign body” sensation in the eye
What causes dry eyes?
A person may suffer from chronic dry eyes if they don’t produce enough tears or if the tears they do produce are low quality (oil, water, and mucus deficiencies cause tears to evaporate too quickly or not spready evenly over the cornea). There are several reasons someone may develop chronic dry eye syndrome, including age, medication side effects, environmental conditions, hormonal changes, and as the result of other medical conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
How are dry eyes treated?
Artificial tears can help lubricate and hydrate the eye, but more advanced cases may require prescription medication or punctal plugs, tiny devices that are inserted into tear ducts to block drainage and increase the eye’s tear film and surface moisture.
Eye floaters are another age-related cause of blurry vision. Microscopic fibers within the eye’s jelly-like vitreous layer clump together and cast tiny shadows on your retina, which may appear as gray specks, cobwebs, strings, or other floating aberrations. Symptoms of eye floaters include:
- Spots in your vision that appear as dark spots or transparent, floating material
- Spots that move quickly out of your visual field when you try to look at them
- Spots that appear with eye movement and then settle down and drift out of the line of vision
What causes eye floaters?
Eye floaters most commonly occur as a result of age-related changes in the vitreous. The sudden appearance of eye floaters may also signal a more serious eye problem, such as posterior uveitis (inflammation in the back of the eye) or retinal detachment.
How are eye floaters treated?
In most cases, eye floaters will fade over time and become less bothersome. For larger and more persistent floaters, laser vitreolysis is the most common treatment. This procedure involves the use of laser beams to break apart and/or vaporize floaters in the vitreous, so they disappear or become less noticeable and bothersome.
Other Causes of Blurry Vision
Blurry vision may also indicate a more serious eye problem, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Because of the considerable number of potential causes, the best course of action for blurry vision sufferers is a comprehensive eye examination.
Let the eye doctors at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center diagnose your blurry vision and recommend treatment so you can see the world through clear eyes.