Causes of Blurred Vision

About Blurred Vision:

Blurred vision is a very common condition that can affect anybody. While there can be severe causes behind blurry vision, such as a problem with a part of your eyes such as the retina, cornea, or the optic nerve, it can also be caused by less severe conditions such as excess strain on your eyes. Here are some of the common causes of blurred vision.

Causes of Blurred Vision

There are many conditions that can cause the onset of sudden blurry vision and should be treated as medical emergencies.(1) It is essential to treat them as soon as possible so that you can prevent permanent vision loss and damage to your eyes. Here are some serious causes of blurred vision that needs immediate treatment:

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be a leading cause of blurred vision. It is a serious condition that needs immediate medical care.(2,3) Retinal detachment happens when the retina stops receiving sufficient oxygen, and the symptoms can be frightening. When you have retinal detachment, you may notice objects appear to float across your field of vision. If you do not receive treatment at the earliest, then a retinal detachment can even cause you to lose your sight.(4)

When the retina tears away from the back of your eyes, it ends up losing nerve and blood supply, which can cause you to see black specks floating across your field of vision. This can also be accompanied by an aura of absent vision or blurred vision.

Without an emergency surgery to repair retinal detachment, restoring circulation to the retina and preserving your vision can become difficult. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult an ophthalmologist at the earliest or head to the nearest emergency department immediately.(5)

Transient Ischemic Attack

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a ministroke that occurs when a certain part of your brain experiences a temporary lack of blood flow, causing stroke-like symptoms. These stroke-like symptoms tend to resolve themselves within 24 hours.(6,7)

A transient ischemic attack is known to cause blurred vision in either one or both your eyes.

Stroke

Blurred or lost vision in both eyes can also happen when you have a stroke that affects the specific part of the brain that controls vision. A stroke that involves the eye can cause lost or blurred vision in only one eye also.

You are also likely to experience other symptoms of a stroke, including weakness on one side of the body or the inability to speak. Fatigue and pain in the jaws is also a common symptom.(8,9)

Wet Macular Degeneration

The center part of your retina is known as the macula. Macular degeneration is a common eye condition that can lead to blurred vision as well as central vision loss.(10) When blood and other fluid start leaking into the macula, it is known as wet macular degeneration.(11)

Wet macular degeneration can cause vision loss and blurred vision in the center part of your field of view.

Unlike dry macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration can start suddenly and then progress at a rapid pace.(12)

Other Causes of Blurry Vision

There are many other causes of sudden blurred vision that are not as serious as the other causes as mentioned above. These include:

  • Eye Strain: Eye strain is a common condition that affects thousands of people these days, especially because of prolonged computer use. Eye strain happens when you are looking at and focusing at something for a prolonged time without taking a break. When eye strain happens as a result of focusing on a screen device such as a computer, mobile phone, or a video monitor, it is known as digital eye strain.(13,14) Other causes of eye strain can also include driving and reading, especially in poor weather and at night. Giving proper rest to your eyes helps resolve blurred vision by itself.
  • Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an infection that affects the eye’s outer lining. It is usually caused by a virus, but in some cases, it can also be caused by bacteria.(15) Conjunctivitis can also cause blurry vision, which resolves itself once you treat the underlying eye infection.
  • High Blood Sugar: Very high levels of blood sugar can cause swelling in the lens of your eye, leading to blurred vision.(16)
  • Corneal Abrasion: The cornea is the clear covering in the front of your eye. When the cornea gets injured or scratched, you may end up having corneal abrasion. If you have a corneal abrasion, in addition to blurred vision, you may also feel like there is something in your eye.(17)
  • Migraine With Aura: Migraine attacks that are accompanied or preceded by an aura can cause blurred vision. You may also see flashing lights, wavy lines, along with other sensory disturbances. It is also possible to experience an aura without having a headache.(18)
  • Macular Hole: The macula is the part of the eye located in the center of the retina. The macula is responsible for sharpening your vision. If it develops a break or tear, it can lead to blurred vision. Macular hole is usually known to affect only one eye.(19)
  • Temporal Arte ritis: Temporal arteritis is caused by inflammation in the arteries around your temples. The main symptom of this condition is a throbbing headache and blurred vision.

Conclusion: Outlook for Sudden Blurred Vision

Some of the underlying causes can lead to vision loss if you delay getting treatment for sudden blurred vision. Immediate and appropriate treatment can lead to a good outcome without any complications for the majority of the causes of sudden blurry vision.

There are many things that can lead to the sudden onset of blurry vision. If you experience any unexplained change in your sight, then you should see your doctor at the earliest.

If you suspect you have wet macular degeneration, retinal detachment, or a stroke, then you should head over to the nearest emergency room for immediate treatment to avoid any severe complications in the long run.

References:

  1. Shingleton, B.J. and O’Donoghue, M.W., 2000. Blurred vision. New England Journal of Medicine, 343(8), pp.556-562.
  2. Michel, R.G., Wilkinson, C.P. and Rice, T.A., 1990. Retinal detachment. St Louis: CV Mosby, 117.
  3. Haimann, M.H., Burton, T.C. and Brown, C.K., 1982. Epidemiology of retinal detachment. Archives of ophthalmology, 100(2), pp.289-292.
  4. Marmor, M.F., 1988. New hypotheses on the pathogenesis and treatment of serous retinal detachment. Graefe’s archive for clinical and experimental ophthalmology, 226(6), pp.548-552.
  5. Girard, P., Mimoun, G., Karpouzas, I. and Montefiore, G., 1994. Clinical risk factors for proliferative vitreoretinopathy after retinal detachment surgery. Retina (Philadelphia, Pa.), 14(5), pp.417-424.
  6. Albers, G.W., Caplan, L.R., Easton, J.D., Fayad, P.B., Mohr, J.P., Saver, J.L. and Sherman, D.G., 2002. Transient ischemic attack—proposal for a new definition.
  7. Johnston, S.C., 2002. Transient ischemic attack. New England Journal of Medicine, 347(21), pp.1687-1692.
  8. Rowe, F. and VIS Group UK, 2013. Symptoms of stroke-related visual impairment. Strabismus, 21(2), pp.150-154.
  9. Rowe, F., Brand, D., Jackson, C.A., Price, A., Walker, L., Harrison, S., Eccleston, C., Scott, C., Akerman, N., Dodridge, C. and Howard, C., 2009. Visual impairment following stroke: do stroke patients require vision assessment?. Age and Ageing, 38(2), pp.188-193.
  10. Lim, L.S., Mitchell, P., Seddon, J.M., Holz, F.G. and Wong, T.Y., 2012. Age-related macular degeneration. The Lancet, 379(9827), pp.1728-1738.
  11. Tobin, K.A., 2006. Macugen treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. Insight (American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses), 31(1), pp.11-14.
  12. Schwartz, D.M., Fraser, S., Grubbs, R.H., Gallivan, J.P. and Yu, C., California Institute of Technology, 2008. Treatment for dry macular degeneration. U.S. Patent 7,381,404.
  13. Rosenfield, M., 2016. Computer vision syndrome (aka digital eye strain). Optometry, 17(1), pp.1-10.
  14. Sheppard, A.L. and Wolffsohn, J.S., 2018. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ open ophthalmology, 3(1), p.e000146.
  15. Morrow, G.L. and Abbott, R.L., 1998. Conjunctivitis. American family physician, 57(4), p.735.
  16. Saito, Y., Ohmi, G., Kinoshita, S., Nakamura, Y., Ogawa, K., Harino, S. and Okada, M., 1993. Transient hyperopia with lens swelling at initial therapy in diabetes. British journal of ophthalmology, 77(3), pp.145-148.
  17. Fraser, S., 2010. Corneal abrasion. Clinical ophthalmology (Auckland, NZ), 4, p.387.
  18. Drummond, P.D. and Anderson, M., 1992. Visual field loss after attacks of migraine with aura. Cephalalgia, 12(6), pp.349-352.
  19. Ho, A.C., Guyer, D.R. and Fine, S.L., 1998. Macular hole. Survey of ophthalmology, 42(5), pp.393-416.

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