When to See a Doctor for Blurred Vision
If you notice you can’t see details in your field of vision or your vision is not sharp, you have blurred vision. It may come on suddenly or gradually, and it may come and go, depending on the cause. When to see a doctor for blurred vision can depend on how quickly your blurred vision develops, or the symptoms that accompany it. Here are some guidelines to help you know when to call your doctor or get other help (including emergency help) if you have blurred vision.
There are a wide variety of reasons for blurred vision, but some of the most common causes include:
- Presbyopia (nearsightedness); hyperopia (farsightedness); astigmatism (uneven focus)
- Wrong or outdated eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Ocular surface disorders including dry eye, blepharitis, allergic eye diseases
- Cataracts (clouding of the lens, often due to aging)
- Computer vision syndrome (CVS or eye strain)
- Macular degeneration
- Retinal detachment
- Retinal vascular occlusion
Injury and infection can also cause blurred vision and there are other diseases, health conditions, or even medications that can make your vision blurry.
Home care is not advisable for most vision problems. However, if you are spending a lot of time at your computer or using another digital device and notice your vision is blurry when you look up, you may have strained your eyes. Try sitting at least 25 inches from your computer monitor and use a matte filter on handheld devices. Take an ‘eye break’ every 20 minutes by shifting your focus to look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
You may have heard that ‘blue light’ from electronics may be harmful to your vision, but there is no scientific evidence for that, or evidence computer glasses are helpful. UV radiation from the sun poses a greater risk to healthy eyesight than light from screens.
Call your eye health professional (an optometrist or an ophthalmologist) for blurred vision, unless your blurred eyesight clears up after blinking a few times, or you have eye strain and it clears up after resting your eyes or changing your focus.
Blurred vision may be due to:
- Change in eye shape that prevents light from properly focusing on the retina requiring glasses or a change in prescription lenses
- Dry eyes or other issues related to the tear film
If your vision blurs suddenly, and is accompanied by a sudden, severe headache, a stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, it could be due to stroke or an acute glaucoma attack and you should seek immediate medical care ( call 911).
Early detection and treatment is the best way to keep your vision healthy throughout your life. In many cases, blindness and vision loss are preventable. Get a baseline eye exam at 40 and when you turn 60, see your eye doctor every one or two years, even if you are not having vision problems.
If you notice a gradual blurring of your vision, you can go to either an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
An ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist who not only can also examine your eyes and prescribe glasses, but also can treat conditions, such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. They also perform eye surgery, including corrective laser surgery, retina surgery, and other procedures.
Make sure you understand your insurance coverage before seeing an eye doctor, and know when you require a referral. Many eye problems and loss of vision are preventable, so if you have blurred vision that doesn’t go away quickly, it’s time to contact your eye doctor.