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Quick Facts

Blurry Vision

By The Manual's Editorial Staff,

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What is blurry vision?

Blurry vision is when you don't see as clearly or sharply as you once did. It's the most common vision problem. Blurry vision is different from loss of vision. Loss of vision means you become blind or can't see anything in all or part of an eye.

  • It's normal for your vision to slowly get blurrier as you get older, but glasses or contacts can usually help you see better

  • If you have sudden loss of vision, go to a hospital right away—vision loss is different from blurry vision

What causes blurry vision?

Most often your vision is blurry and you just need glasses or contact lenses because you are:

  • Nearsighted (have trouble seeing far-away objects clearly)

  • Farsighted (have trouble seeing close-up objects clearly)

  • Have astigmatism (blurry vision due to the shape of your eye's cornea or lens)

Other common causes:

  • Cataracts (when the lens of your eye slowly gets cloudy)

  • Macular degeneration (a gradual breakdown of the back of your eye, leading to vision loss)

  • Eye damage caused by diabetes

  • Glaucoma (high pressure inside your eye)

When should I see a doctor?

Go to a hospital right away if you have blurry vision and any of these warning signs:

  • Your blurry vision started suddenly

  • Severe loss of vision, especially in just one eye, even if the symptoms started slowly

  • Eye pain (with or without moving your eyes)

  • Having blind spots—not being able to see a certain area in your field of vision

  • You have an immune system problem, such as HIV or AIDS

If you have blurry vision and a health problem that can cause eye damage, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sickle cell disease, see an eye doctor within a few days—even if you have no warning signs.

If you have blurry vision with no warning signs, you can usually wait a week or longer to see an eye doctor.

What will happen at my doctor visit?

Doctors will ask about your symptoms and health history.

Doctors will:

  • Check your vision with an eye chart

  • Put some liquid drops in your eye (you may have a burning feeling that lasts a few seconds)

  • Look into your eye using a special magnifying light (the light is very bright)

  • Measure the pressure in your eye (there are different ways to do this, but none of them hurt)

How do doctors treat blurry vision?

Doctors will treat the cause of your blurry vision. For example, if you have a cataract, you may need surgery to treat it.

Doctors may prescribe glasses or contact lenses to help you see more clearly.