Blurred vision

Dr. Ajay Mohan (AIIMS)MBBS

December 28, 2019

March 06, 2020

Blurred vision
Blurred vision

Blurred vision is a condition marked by reduced sharpness of vision so it becomes difficult to see things clearly. It may occur in your peripheral vision, your line of sight or in one or both of your eyes. The most common causes of blurred vision are refractive errors of the eye including nearsightedness, and farsightedness. However, it may also occur due to serious underlying conditions.

In addition to weak eyesight, eye infections and eye disorders like cataract and glaucoma, blurred vision may be one of the symptoms of conditions like dehydration, sleep deprivation, computer vision syndrome, fatigue, high blood pressure, migraine, diabetic retinopathy (one of the complications of diabetes in which the blood vessels of the retina dilate and the cells start leaking fluids), heart disease, preeclampsia in pregnant women or even stroke.

Quite apart from the annoyance of not being able to see clearly, blurry vision is a symptom that is common to many diseases. But arming yourself with the right information is the first - and best - step to maintaining good health. In this spirit, we lay down all the possible causes and treatments of blurry vision here.

Symptoms of blurred vision and when to visit a doctor

Blurred vision is in itself a symptom associated with various conditions. However, a person with blurred vision may also have some other symptoms such as:

If you get symptoms like difficulty speaking, numbness in the face or anywhere in the body, or dizziness along with sudden blurred vision, seek medical help immediately.

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Causes of blurred vision

Blurred vision may occur due to the following conditions:

  • Dry eyes
  • Eye injury or eye infection
  • Nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Wearing contact lenses for a longer time than prescribed by the doctor
  • Astigmatism - a condition caused by irregular shape of the cornea
  • Presbyopia - age-related problem, in which your eyes gradually lose the ability to see nearby things, usually corrected by bifocal lenses.
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract
  • Blocked tear duct
  • Inflammation in any part of the eye - the iris (the coloured part of the eye), uvea (which contains the iris) or the optic nerve - may cause blurred vision
  • A detached retina can cause blurred vision or loss of vision - it requires emergency care

Also, injuries to the head may cause blurry vision.

Certain health conditions that may lead to blurred vision include high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, migraine, and psoriasis (if it affects your eyes).

Additionally, diabetic eye disease and preeclampsia in pregnancy can cause blurring of vision. 

  1. Causes of blurred vision related to eye problems
  2. Causes of blurred vision other than eye problems

Causes of blurred vision related to eye problems

Eyes problems are the most common reason for blurry vision. These include:

  • Refractive errors of the eyes: This refers to the condition in which the eye cannot clearly focus the images. The blurring can occur in one or both eyes. It can be present in one of four forms:
    • Myopia or nearsightedness is the most common vision problem in which people can see objects near them clearly, but objects farther away can seem blurry. It occurs because the lens of their eye causes the light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of their retina instead of on their retina.
    • Hypermetropia or farsightedness is a vision condition in which people can clearly see distant objects, but are unable to focus on objects that are close. Hypermetropia occurs because the light rays that pass through the lens of the eye does not bend properly and form the image behind the retina instead of on the retina.
    • Presbyopia is a condition in which older people get a blurry view of the objects that are placed close to them. It is because of the age-related changes in the natural lens of the eye.
    • Astigmatism is blurring of vision due to the irregular shape of the cornea (front layer of the eye) or the lens of the eye is medically called astigmatism.
  • Dry eyes: Dry eyes are a sign of a medical condition known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. In keratoconjunctivitis, people suffer from dryness of the conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the white of the eye) and cornea (the clear layer in front of the iris and pupil). It occurs because the lacrimal glands (tear glands) don't produce enough tears to keep the layers of eyes moist.
  • After LASIK: LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses) is a common laser eye surgery to correct vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. People who undergo LASIK may experience blurriness for a few days. The condition typically resolves with the prescribed medicines and eye drops.
  • Cataract: When the protein of the eye lens starts to break down, it leads to blurring and clouding of the vision - this is medically known as a cataract. A cataract is usually seen in elderly people but can happen to anyone, especially to people living with diabetes. The blurring of vision may be noticed in one or both the eyes.

  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a serious eye condition in which the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the eye to the brain) gets damaged. This can lead to complete loss of vision, which could be permanent if not treated early. Although the exact cause of glaucoma is unknown, it is believed that damage to the nerve occurs due to an increase in the pressure in the eye. The symptoms involve sudden narrowing of the field of vision, often called tunnel vision, accompanied by the blurred vision at the edges of the field of view.

  • Macular degeneration: It is a medical condition which is associated with blurring and loss of vision due to damage to the macula, the central part of the retina. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common reason for vision loss in people over 50 years of age. People with AMD tend to lose their central vision but their peripheral vision is normal. 

    For instance, if they are looking at a wall clock with hands, they will be able to see the numbers around the clock but won’t be able to see the hands as they look blurred.
    In dry AMD, the macula gets thin and protein clumps start growing on it, whereas in wet AMD, new abnormal blood vessels start growing under the retina.

Causes of blurred vision other than eye problems

If you have blurry vision in addition to symptoms like dizziness or increased sensitivity to lights, or if you have a chronic condition like high blood pressure, diabetes or migraine, don't be alarmed but do visit your doctor as soon as possible. Some of the conditions that may be linked to blurry vision are:

  • Fatigue: When you're very tired, your eye muscles may also be tired and have trouble focusing. This can cause blurriness. The fix is simple: take adequate rest.
  • Sleep deprivation: Adults need at least seven hours of sleep daily. Going without proper or adequate sleep for days or weeks may result in symptoms like confusion and blurred vision. Lack of sleep or low-quality sleep over a longer period of time can result in more serious health problems.
  • Dehydration: Similar to fatigue, dehydration in the body can cause the eyes to become dry, too. This, in turn, can cause blurry vision.
  • Computer vision syndrome: Also known as digital eye strain, computer vision syndrome occurs as a result of overusing computer/laptop/mobile screens. Its classic symptoms include eye strain, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck pain and shoulder pain.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure (BP) affects every part of the body. It increases wear and tear in the blood vessels, including the blood vessels in the eyes. This may lead to blurry vision or bleeding from the eye. Many people with high BP don't know they are living with this condition. If you have not been diagnosed with high BP, but notice symptoms like frequent headaches, breathlessness, unexplained bleeding from the nose and/or blurry vision, ask your doctor about appropriate methods to check your BP such as the ambulatory blood pressure monitoring machine which takes your BP for up to 24 hours.
  • Migraines: Many people suffering from classical migraine experience temporary blurring of vision which may be accompanied by flickering light, halos or zigzag patterns before the headache starts.
  • Medications: Blurry vision is a side-effect of some medications like anti-depressants (amitriptyline, used in migraines), anti-tuberculosis drugs (ethambutol, isoniazid) and even viagra (sildenafil). To be sure, not everyone experiences these side-effects on taking these medicines.

  • Diabetic retinopathy: It is one of the serious complications of diabetes. People with uncontrolled diabetes might undergo progressive damage to the retina, either due to fluid leaking into macula or abnormal blood vessels leaking blood on the surface of the retina. This leads to blurred vision and dark spot in the centre of the vision.

  • Stroke: Sudden blurry vision in both the eyes along with drooping of the face, muscle weakness and slurred speech could be a sign of stroke in a person. Immediate medical care is needed in this case.

Diagnosis of blurred vision

Blurry vision as a result of eye problems may be diagnosed with the help of various tests like ophthalmoscopy, refraction tests (for refractive errors), eye chart test, tonometry (to measure intraocular pressure or the pressure in your eyes), corneal topography (for astigmatism), and slit-lamp examination.

To diagnose an underlying cause of blurred vision, your doctor may also ask for your medical history and will inquire about the presence of any associated symptomṣ. He/she may also take your blood pressure and/or ask you to get some blood tests.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and may include medicines, eye drops, corrective lenses and LASIK (laser eye surgery).

Treatment of blurred vision

The treatment depends on the cause of blurred vision. Some of the courses of treatment may include:

  • For refractive errors, an ophthalmologist may prescribe spectacles, contact lenses or refractive surgery like LASIK.
  • Dry eyes treatment like eye drops made with artificial tears may help to fix blurry vision in the case of digital eye strain. Eye drops containing cyclosporine may help in reducing inflammation of the eyes. Punctal plugs may also be placed inside the eyes by an ophthalmologist, to prevent the tears from draining from the eyes.
  • People who experience blurry vision as a symptom of migraine may see an improvement if they start taking anti-depressants - a common course of treatment for migraine headaches. Please don't take any medicines without consulting a doctor first.
  • Blurriness due to LASIK treatment resolves on its own within a few days. If it persists for more than a week, then a visit to the ophthalmologist is a must.
  • Medication-related blurriness can be resolved either by changing the medicine or by discontinuing its use. Please consult your doctor before discontinuing any prescribed medication.
  • Surgery helps in removing the blurriness and cloudiness of the eyes caused by cataracts. In this surgery, the defective lens is replaced by an intraocular lens.
  • While treating glaucoma, the ultimate goal is to decrease the pressure in the eye. Your ophthalmologist may advise medicines or surgery for this. Laser surgeries and drainage valve implant surgery may be advised to reduce the pressure in the eye.
  • There is no treatment for dry AMD (age-related macular degeneration), but you may be able to slow down the rate of degeneration by eating food rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, and minerals like zinc, copper and lutein. Your doctor may even advise you to take supplements for these.
  • Anti-VEGF (anti-Vascular endothelial growth factor) treatment for wet AMD may help in reducing the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. The treatment is delivered to the eye through a very slender needle.
  • Controlling blood sugar is the first step towards the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Laser therapy may also be done to stop the leakage from the abnormal blood vessels, thus clearing the vision.

Read more: How to improve eyesight: foods, exercises, home remedies

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Takeaway for blurred vision

Generally, blurred vision is nothing to worry about. The most common cause, of course, is eye problems, most of which can be fixed quite easily. However, if you experience blurred vision in addition to other symptoms like headaches or dizziness or if you are pregnant, then it's best not to take this symptom lightly and see a doctor as soon as possible.

The treatment for blurred vision depends entirely on the cause. So it is important to share your complete medical history with your doctor, to help him/her diagnose and treat your condition properly.

If you have hypertension or diabetes, make sure you take your medicines regularly. Both high blood pressure and high blood sugar can harm every part of the body - but you can limit the damage by taking your prescribed medicines to keep BP under 140/90 mm Hg and blood sugar under 140 mg/dL (after two hours of eating).

Blurred vision can be annoying and even dangerous. Take care to avoid tasks like driving and cooking if you can't see properly, to avoid injuries.

Finally, some causes of blurred vision are temporary. For example, if your ophthalmologist dilates your eyes for a check-up, the effects tend to wear off in about an hour. Or if you have had LASIK surgery, then your vision may be blurry for a few days after the operation.


  1. Canadian Association of Optometrists [Internet]. Ottawa (ON) Canada. Sudden Blurred Vision
  2. Health direct [internet]: Department of Health: Australian government; Blurred vision
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology [internet]. California (U.S.A). Blurriness
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Diabetic Eye Disease
  5. National Eye Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD). National Institute of Health: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Pink Eye
  6. Department of health: New York State. Types of Vision Problems

Medicines for Blurred vision

Medicines listed below are available for Blurred vision. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

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