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What are the Causes of Blurred Vision?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many causes of blurred vision. In fact, well over 600 diseases, conditions and other precursors may exist which result in changes in visual acuity so that things look fuzzy or blurry. Some of these causes can be immediately diagnosed; for instance, swimming in chemically treated water may blur the vision for an hour or two afterwards. What is important is that people not view chronic or constant blurry vision as benign. Though it may signify very easy conditions to treat, it can also be a sign of serious ones that require swift medical attention.

Some of the more common causes of blurred vision include normal aging that may cause a loss of elasticity in the eyes or weakening of the eye muscles. Conditions like far or near-sightedness can also make things that look near or far away blurry, respectively. These things are usually easily treated with eye exercises, eye surgery or corrective lenses or glasses.

Sometimes blurred vision suggests much more serious conditions. It can be a sign that cataracts are present or that macular degeneration is occurring, which is a major cause of blindness especially in the elderly. Glaucoma can also have blurred or impaired vision as a symptom.

Occasionally, blurry vision results from conditions like dry eyes, and it can also be a temporary symptom of eye infections. Conditions like pink eye, hay fever, and even allergic reactions to substances might make things look blurry. Certainly chemical exposure of many types may result in changes to vision, and even when these chemicals are relatively safe, it still may be worth a doctor’s visit to make sure that all chemical matter is cleared from the eyes.

A number of prescription medications have blurry vision as a potential side effect. These are too many to list. The best way to determine if vision changes might be the result of medications taken is to check with a pharmacist or doctor about medicine side effects. Certain over the counter medications (OTC meds), when taken in overdose can also have this effect. Aspirin overdose is just one example of an overdosed med that can cause blurred vision. There are also street drugs that can change visual acuity, including Ecstasy.

Injuries to the eyes are another clear cause, but so are injuries to the head and neck. Up to 30% of people who suffer whiplash may have blurry vision afterward. Naturally, any trauma that directly affects one or both eyes may change vision too.

Given the potential serious diseases that blurred vision can indicate, it’s presence, unless it goes away almost immediately, always suggests that people schedule a vision exam. Undergoing a vision exam can help rule out or rule in common causes. More importantly, if the cause is more serious, doctors can start treatment for conditions that could permanently alter sight.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By ValleyFiah — On Jul 11, 2010

Blurred vision can also be indicative of a migraine. In some patients, a migraine aura happens right before the headache. This aura is usually a fortification spectra or a scotoma.

A fortification spectra is a pattern of blurred vision and flashing lights, often zigzagging in the migraine suffers field of vision. A scotoma is a hole or blind spot in the person’s field of view, often having blurred edges.

If you experience migraines there is a chance that you are all too familiar with these symptoms.

By GlassAxe — On Jul 10, 2010

Spending too much time writing or reading on a computer can cause computer vision syndrome. One of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome is blurred vision. Other symptoms are chronic headaches, double vision, eyestrain, and dry eyes.

Most of these symptoms are preventable, but if measures are not taken to correct them, you may suffer from permanent eyesight deterioration. Looking away every thirty minutes helps. Doing eye exercises can also help to prevent computer vision syndrome as can focusing on objects farther away. Whatever you do, just try not to stare into the screen for hours on end.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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