Blurred vision is common problem which affects most people at some stage during their lives. While most cases are transient and mild, some visual disturbances are more significant so it is best to see a specialist and investigate any new symptoms.
In mild forms it can simply be objects blurring whether at a distance or close up. In more severe cases, blurred eyesight can impact your day to day life and normal activities such as driving or watching television. On rare occasions it can be a medical emergency.
Blurry eyesight can be caused by some of the following conditions which are collectively known as refractive errors:
Cataracts can cause blurring over a period of time and at first may be subtle. Eventually they can cause blurry vision and, if left untreated, blindness. It happens when the lens in your eye develops small cloudy patches. Cataracts usually affect people over 60 years of age but can occasionally occur in younger individuals.
This can cause blurred vision when reading something up close like a book, or looking at a computer screen. Long-sightedness (hyperopia) can occur at any age and is caused by light refracting inaccurately off the retina at the back of the eye – causing the area of focus to appear blurred. This is usually because the eyeball is too short, the cornea is too flat or the lens inside the eye is unable to focus accurately. Long-sightedness becomes more common is those over 40 years old as your eye becomes less able to adapt. The lens loses its elasticity with age so becomes less able to focus on near objects (presbyopic hyperopia).
This condition also known as myopia, causes blurred vision when viewing things at a distance, like driving or watching television. It usually occurs when the eyeball grows slightly too long and so the point of focus at the back of the eye falls slightly short of the retina. This causes objects far away to appear blurry. Myopia is common amongst young children and young adults affecting roughly 33% of the population.
Causes blurred vision when viewing objects at any distance. It is caused by an imperfection in the curvature of the eye’s cornea. Instead of being perfectly round it is more commonly likened to the shape of a rugby ball. This imperfect curvature prevents the eye from correctly focusing light on the retina. Astigmatism usually occurs alongside short-sightness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia).
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition associated with diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina. At first, there may be no obvious symptoms which is why it is incredibly important to undergo regular checks with your optician / optometrist if you suffer from diabetes. As blood vessels of the light sensitive tissue become more damaged they will cause blurred vision. Other symptoms include fluctuating vision, impaired colour vision, dark or empty areas of vision, spots or dark strings floating in vision. As the disease progresses it will eventually lead to complete loss of vision.
Age-related macular degeneration
An age-related condition generally, macular degeneration is categorized as wet or dry. Wear and tear combined with inflammation damages the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of your eye. This causes central vision to become blurred.
When the retina detaches, it becomes loose from the rest of the eye. As well as blurry vision, your eye may also be sore and red. It’s exact cause is not known and it is impossible to prevent. It is more common as you get older. Additional risk factors such as being short sighted, having had an eye operation / accident and a family history all increase the chance of the retina detaching. A detached retina is a serious medical emergency and blurred vision will occur suddenly rather than gradually. Always call 999 or visit your local emergency centre if you suspect this has occurred.
Eye infection, inflammation, injury or trauma
It’s common for blurred vision to occur as a result of an eye infection or injury. Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi entering the eye and distorting vision. This is usually temporary but should always be checked over by an eye specialist.
Laser surgery can be used to treat a host of conditions that cause blurred vision. Book an appointment to speak to Laser Vision Scotland about your best treatment options.