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Blurry vision is a classic “nonspecific” symptom that people report to their doctors—like “I feel tired all the time.” Whether it’s blurry seeing or feeling fatigued, the possible reasons are many and occasionally unusual, from poisoning to concussion. Regardless of cause, however, most people just want to know, “Why is my vision blurry?”
For vision health, blurry seeing can be a valuable early warning sign of treatable eye conditions and diseases. It can also signal something wrong besides your vision. Among the scores of causes for blurry vision, a smaller number are the most likely suspects, particularly in older adults.
Refractive errors—problems in the way the eyes focus light—are behind a lot of blurry vision. This includes nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. These can be corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery. Beginning in our 40s, age-related problems focusing at near distances, or presbyopia, is extremely typical. This occurs with stiffening of the eye’s natural lens, which makes it hard to read small print and causes you to hold reading materials farther away to be able to focus.
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Common Eye Conditions
A common reason for blurry vision is simple eye strain or fatigue. It happens when you push your vision to the limits by driving long distances and staring at computer screens or smart phones for extended periods. Along with blurriness, eye strain causes pain and general discomfort, such as sore, itchy, and watery eyes. Chronic dry eye can also cause blurry vision. It traces to various problems with the eye’s lubrication system.
Age-related eye diseases can cause blurry vision. These include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. These are causes of blurry vision you definitely want to know about as soon as possible.
Why is My Vision Blurry? Other Medical Causes
Especially in older adults, a variety of causes can cause blurry vision that are not necessarily directly related to the eye.
Stroke occurs when blood supply to a portion of the brain is impeded, either because of blockage in an artery or bleeding. Blurry vision is among the classic stroke red flag symptoms. These include facial drooping, slurred speech, weakness or numbness on one side of the body or one arm, dizziness, and loss of balance. Stroke is a medical emergency and every second counts until you reach emergency medical care.
Medication side effects are also a common problem among older adults, made worse by the fact that older people tend to take more medications than younger people do. Medications that older adults often take and that can trigger blurry or double vision include alpha-blockers for high blood pressure or prostate enlargement, antibiotics, cholesterol drugs, corticosteroids, and erectile dysfunction drugs.