What causes dizziness and blurred vision?
Dizziness and blurred vision can be triggered by various conditions, a reaction to medication and even stress. Whether symptoms are mild or severe, it is important to pinpoint what may have caused dizziness or blurry vision to occur.
Depending on the underlying cause, occurrences of blurred vision and dizziness are often accompanied by nausea, headache and light-headedness, among other symptoms. If blurred vision and dizziness are prolonged or other serious symptoms develop, contact a doctor.
Common causes of dizziness and blurred vision
Some triggers of dizziness and blurred vision are more serious than others. The following conditions may be to blame for experiencing both sensations:
1. Anxiety and stress
When anxiety and stress become overwhelming, an anxiety attack or panic attack can ensue. Adrenaline levels increase during both of these events, which can cause physical symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision and tunnel vision (among other physical and emotional symptoms).
Managing stress and anxiety is the best way to cope with the physical effects they may bring. Consider stress relieving activities, breathing exercises or consulting a doctor for treating severe cases.
Some medications can have side effects, including dizzy spells, general dizziness and blurred vision. Reactions vary from person to person. Taking multiple medications at the same time or drinking alcohol with some medication can also enhance symptoms.
If you recently started taking a new medicine — whether prescribed or over-the-counter — report any concerns about side effects to a doctor, who may suggest an alternative treatment.
Excessive alcohol consumption can have many effects on the body, including dizziness and blurred vision. When drinking alcohol, remember to eat enough food for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs, and to drink enough water to help keep your system hydrated and in balance.
4. Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is commonly associated with diabetes, though other circumstances like fasting and reactions to medication can trigger it as well. Low blood sugar can lead to a light-headed feeling, fatigue and hunger, as well as dizziness and blurred vision.
Eating a snack or drinking a bit of juice can help relieve mild symptoms of low blood sugar, but if it becomes a recurring issue or other symptoms develop, contact a doctor.
5. Concussion or brain injury
Injuries to the brain range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and can be caused by sporting accidents, car accidents, falls and more. Brain and head injuries can cause varying symptoms depending on the severity of the injury — blurred vision and dizziness are among these.
Any head injury that causes distorted vision (not limited to blurred vision and dizziness) should be treated as an emergency and cared for at the ER or at an urgent care facility.
SEE RELATED: Symptoms of concussions & TBI symptoms
6. Migraine headache
A migraine is an intense type of headache that typically includes nausea and sensitivity to sound and light. In many cases, migraines can also cause dizziness and blurred vision. Migraines can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.
Some ways to help relieve a migraine headache include taking a pain reliever, resting in a dark and quiet room, applying a warm or cool compress and massaging your temples. If migraines occur more than a few times a month or resist treatment, advanced treatment from a doctor may be required.
SEE RELATED: Blurred vision and headaches
7. Vertigo and motion sickness
Vertigo is a sudden feeling of imbalance and spinning that occurs even while a person is sitting or standing still. Blurred vision often occurs with the dizziness of a vertigo spell. Some common causes of vertigo include dehydration, migraine headaches and sudden head movement.
Motion sickness can be triggered by continuous movement in a variety of circumstances, including traveling in a car or standing next to a moving body of water. Motion sickness can have other uncomfortable feelings, such as nausea, dizziness and occasionally blurred vision.
A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain. There are many symptoms that can indicate a stroke, including trouble speaking, sudden onset headache and numbness or weakness on one side of the body or face. Symptoms can also include blurred vision and dizziness.
Strokes require emergency care. Be sure to call 911 if you suspect that someone is having a stroke.
SEE RELATED: Is double vision a sign of a stroke?
9. Vision conditions
Some visual dysfunctions can play a role in dizziness and blurred vision. This often occurs with vision conditions such as:
Vertical imbalance: a considerable misalignment of the visual perception between each eye
Anisometropia or antimetropia: a significant difference of vision prescriptions between each eye
Binocular vision dysfunction: a condition where the eyes struggle to work together to deliver an image to the brain
Adjusting to a new eyeglasses or contacts prescription can also trigger mild dizziness and blurriness, but this should go away within a week or two of wear. Don’t hesitate to contact an eye doctor with vision concerns, whether mild or severe.
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Page published in January 2021
Page updated in September 2021