Blurred Vision — Causes, Symptoms, and Relief

Did you know that blurred vision can be an important sign of eye disease? It’s true! But eye diseases aren’t the only thing that can cause your vision to be blurry.

This issue can affect one eye or both eyes, and can occur often or rarely. Either way, if you notice your vision becomes blurry, contact your eye doctor sooner rather than later.

If you’re struggling to focus on words or signs that you used to be able to read just fine, don’t get frustrated… just contact your doctor.

Your age and health should not matter at this point. Just get an appointment set-up asap. You don’t want to go blind, do you? Because if you let this problem linger long enough, it could lead to blindness. It’s best to get into your doctor’s office to see what’s going on.

In most cases, your doctor appointment won’t last more than an hour.

Blurred Vision Symptoms You May Develop

In some cases blurred vision may be accompanied by additional symptoms in one or both eyes. There is usually some other underlying cause. Symptoms can include:

Why Is My Vision Blurry?

As noted above, blurred vision can be a sign of an underlying problem. Of course people who forget to wear their prescribed corrective lenses experience blurry vision, but it’s not always that simple.

Yet, vision loss issues such as blindnessdouble vision, or blurry vision can mean any of a number of different things, ranging from dry eyes or glaucoma to migraines or retinal detachments.

There is a long list of possible causes of blurry vision. Let’s go over a few of them now…

  • Refractive Eye Conditions: Indicates the need for corrective lenses, or a new lens prescription
  • Myopia: Nearsightedness
  • Presbyopia: A diminishing ability to focus
  • Other Eye Conditions: For example, glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration
  • Dry Eyes: Blurry vision is a symptom of this syndrome
  • Migraines: Some people experience blurry vision before the onset of a migraine
  • Cataracts: Causes the lenses to become cloudy
  • Contact Lenses: Dirty or damaged contact lenses can cause blurry vision
  • Diabetes

Sometimes medications cause blurry vision. There are many prescribed drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that can cause this problem, including:

  • Certain anticholinergics
  • Some antihypertensives
  • Some asychotropic drugs
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Cortisone
  • Some antidepressants
  • Some heart medications

Diagnosing the Cause of Blurred Vision

While trying to find the cause of your blurred vision your eye doctor may perform one or more of the following tests:

Slit-lamp examination: Your eye doctor will have you place your chin on a resting pad at first. Then he or she will use a machine to focus on different structures in the front and back of the eye. This helps them see if the eye is functioning properly or not. When necessary, the doctor may adjust the light and the level of magnification in order to see better.

Anesthetic eye drops are given to numb the surface of your eye, as well as an eye drop called fluorescein to coat the surface of your eye. If anything looks weird on the surface of the cornea it will glow under a blue light. Fluorescein is also used to measure the intraocular pressure (see below).

Refraction test: This test measures your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. A device called a phoroptor or refractor is used. Looking through the device, you will be asked to focus on a Snellen eye chart. As your eye doctor asks you to read the chart, he or she will determine whether you need eyeglasses or not.

Tonometry: Using the glowing eye drops mentioned above, your eye doctor will measure your eye pressure. This is done with a device called a tonometer, which is attached to the slit-lamp. You will be asked to keep your eyes wide open and to breathe normally. The tonometer is brought up to the surface of each eye to measure the pressure. Sometimes eye doctors measure intraocular pressure with a puff of air on the surface of the eye.

Relieving Blurred Vision — It’s Possible!

If you are experiencing blurred vision, you should visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. There may be a wide variety of treatment options to choose from.  Here are a few things you can do to try to bring your vision back into focus:

  1. Try reading glasses (pick a pair with the lowest magnifying power
  2. Stand at least a foot away from the rack of glasses and try to read the letters on the signs
  3. If you cannot read the letters, pick a pair with a higher magnification
  4. Do this until you find a pair that works for you for your needs


It’s important to know that both eyes do not always lose vision at the same rate or at the same time. Try to trick your brain by using two different contact lenses rather than using the same prescription. One lens can be for distance vision and the other for near vision.

Wearing contacts in this fashion is called monovision, or blended vision. Monovision lenses allow the brain to automatically focus the eyes for both distant and near vision. You can learn more about monovision here.

If your eye exam does not uncover any problems, you might just need eye drops to soothe your eyes. Over-the-counter drops are available, or your doctor can write you a prescription.

Finally, if you do wear glasses or contact lenses, try cleaning them. Oil and debris can build up on the lenses and cause blurry or fuzzy vision.

Many different types of cleaning solutions can be purchased over the counter, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your eye doctors first. Not all solutions work well with all types of lenses.

For blurriness caused by cataracts, there are surgical options to replace the old lens with a new one.

Can Blurry Vision Be Prevented?

Blurry vision sometimes happens to the best of us. Most of the time, however, it can be corrected or prevented. For example, wearing sunglasses will decrease sensitivity to light. Or you can avoid drinking alcohol, which is known to alter vision.

Regular eye examinations are extremely important, especially if you are over the age of 65, or if you have a health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The following chart will help you see when you should schedule your next visit.

Age Frequency
0 to 6 months Minimum of once a year
6 months to 18 years Every 2 – 4 years
19 to 39 years Every 3 – 5 years
40 to 64 years Every 2 – 4 years
65 and older Every 1 – 2 years

When to Contact Your Eye Doctor about Blurred Vision

When blurred vision is associated with the symptoms listed above, consider contacting your eye doctor for a check-up. Furthermore, if medication has caused the blurry vision, do not discontinue or switch medications before seeing your eye doctor.

If you are having eye pain and the eye is red, call your eye doctor immediately. Also, partial or complete blindness, even if it is temporary, should never go ignored since it is a medical emergency.

Talking to Your Eye Doctor

Here are some questions to ask your eye doctor about blurry vision:

  • What is causing my blurry vision?
  • How soon should I come back for a follow-up visit?
  • Which type of diagnostic tests should I expect?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for my next appointment?
  • Also, has my prescription changed since my last visit?
  • Will I need to wear glasses on a regular basis to prevent blurry vision?
  • Will I be able to drive myself home today?

Did you know…approximately 42 million Americans have no vision problems?

Sources and References:
We have strict guidelines for each of our sources and references. We rely upon vision, eye and medical information from peer-reviewed studies, medical associations and academic research institions.
  • J. Anshel, MD “Smart Medicine for Your Eyes” (SquareOne Publishers, 2011) 150-165; 200-266
  • J. Weizer, MD; J. Stein, MD, MS “Readers Digest Guide to Eye Care” (Quantum Publishing, 2009) 25-31