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Is it normal to have blurry or fluctuating vision?

stop sign that is blurry

Are fluctuations in your vision normal? Yes and no. Gradual vision changes can be caused by temporary conditions, developing eye issues and serious health problems, but sometimes your vision can get blurry, seemingly out of nowhere.

If your vision changes suddenly, see your eye doctor ASAP. If your vision seems to be changing gradually, tell your eye doctor at your next regular exam so she or he can determine a cause.

You may just need a new eyeglasses prescription, or if you're over 40, you may just need progressive lenses so you can more easily read text messages on your phone.

HAS YOUR VISION CHANGED SUDDENLY? Book an eye exam near you now.

Why is my vision sometimes blurry?

Blurry vision can be a consequence of a temporary condition and can go away as the condition fades. Your vision can become temporarily blurry for one or more of these reasons:

Cataracts: Blurry or cloudy vision, along with night blindness, can be early signs of cataracts. Vision will worsen over time, but with cataract surgery, there’s hope for restored vision.

Corneal abrasion: If your cornea gets scratched, it will negatively impact your ability to see clearly. As the scratch heals, your vision will clear up.

Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can cause eye dryness and strain. Blurry vision will naturally follow.

Eye strain: We’re constantly staring at lights: -- our lighted phone screens, laptop screens, flashing advertisement displays and more. Staring at screens can put a strain on your eyes, which can sometimes make your vision blurry.

Hyperglycemia: High blood sugar can cause your corneas to swell, which can have a negative impact on your vision.

Hyphema: If a blood vessel bursts in your eye and blood pools between your cornea and iris, it can cause your vision to fluctuate. To avoid long-term damage and possible vision loss, see your eye doctor immediately for assessment and any necessary treatment.

Intoxication: Heavy drinking can cause blurry vision, double vision and dizziness.

LASIK surgery: LASIK surgery involves peeling back the cornea to correct vision conditions, such as myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). Blurry vision following the surgery is perfectly normal — it should become a little clearer each day.

Medication: Some medications can cause your eyes to become dry, which can cause blurry vision. If this issue persists, consult with your doctor about switching to another medication.

Migraines: Migraines are intense headaches that cause sensitivity to light and sound. As your body tries to avoid stimuli that can exacerbate the ache, your vision can become blurry.

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormones shift and change. Some hormonal shifts can cause the corneas to change shape, resulting in blurry or double vision.

Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep can have a number of effects on your body, including dry eye. Dryness can cause blurry vision, and neurologically speaking, sleep deprivation can also cause your vision to fluctuate.

What underlying conditions cause fluctuating vision?

Some underlying conditions can cause fluctuations in eyesight, including:

Detached retina: If your retina is altered, it’s going to impact your vision. A detached retina will cause your vision to fluctuate.

Dry eye syndrome: Different from eye dryness, dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that results in insufficient lubrication of the eyes, and, in some cases, fluctuating vision.

Glaucoma: Blurry vision or hazy peripheral vision (“tunnel vision”) is one of the many symptoms of glaucoma. Blindness can occur as it develops.

Iritis: Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the circle around the pupil we refer to as “eye color.” Iritis itself is a symptom of autoimmune diseases that can cause blurry vision.

Keratitis: When an infection causes the cornea to become inflamed, it’s called keratitis. Distortion of the cornea can cause your vision to change.

Macular degeneration: The macula, located in the center of your retina, can degenerate as you age. This condition, called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) comes in two forms — wet and dry — and can lead to blurry vision, “blind spots” and vision loss.

Macular hole: Unlike a corneal abrasion, which is temporary and can heal on its own over time, a macular hole does not develop due to external forces like injury. A macular hole, which can hinder vision, typically only affects one eye.

Pink eye: Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is a viral or bacterial infection in your eye. The secretion caused by this condition can cause blurry vision.

Serious health conditions that can cause fluctuating vision:

Brain tumor: If you have blurry vision along with headaches, seizures, nausea and personality changes, you could have a brain tumor. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately.

Diabetes: Changes in your blood sugar can cause your cornea to swell and change shape. Diabetes, which causes perpetual fluctuations in blood sugar, can cause blurry vision, eye floaters and even blindness in extreme cases. 

Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy. While some blurry vision is a normal result of hormonal changes, this symptom, along with nausea (after the first trimester), headaches, shortness of breath and stomach pains indicate that you should see a doctor right away.

Stroke: During a stroke, you can experience blurry vision, dizziness, disorientation, and weakness or numbness in your left arm. If you experience the F.A.S.T. warning signs (face drooping, arm weakness and slurred speech),  it’s time to call 911.

Vertigo: Vertigo is a condition that can cause dizziness, disorientation, loss of balance and vision fluctuation.

Can your vision change daily?

It is possible for your vision to change daily, but it’s also a sign that you may have an underlying condition.

If your vision fluctuations become more common, it’s time to see your eye doctor. Don't wait. Your vision changes could be a sign of a serious health condition.

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