Most people experience changes in vision gradually over a period of months or years. They start moving their reading material closer or farther away in order to see the letters or find themselves struggling to see clearly when driving at night. These kinds of changes are common, especially as people age.
Sudden blurry vision is a different story. If you haven’t had any vision changes, even if you use glasses or contacts, and your vision becomes dramatically worse in a matter of minutes or hours, it could be the sign of these serious conditions.
Diabetes: Diabetes patients are at risk of a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by low blood sugar that results in damaged blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that senses light. Damaged blood vessels can cause swelling of the part of the retina called the macula, and can contribute to macular degeneration. Diabetic eye degeneration can cause blurred and/or spotty vision and can lead to blindness if not properly diagnosed and treated.
Stroke: Sudden blurred vision is also a symptom of strokes. Strokes impede blood flow in the brain and can cause blurry vision, double vision, or sudden loss of sight. Other stroke warning signs include dizziness, drooping facial muscles, confusion, balance problems, difficulty speaking clearly and loss of feeling in one arm.
Multiple Sclerosis: Unexpected blurred vision is often one of the earliest symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS causes inflammation along the optic nerve that connects your eyes to the brain. That causes a condition called optic neuritis, which can lead to blurry sight, loss of color vision, and pain when you move your eyes. It often happens in just one eye. MS symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and the frequency of symptoms vary widely from patient to patient. Just because a symptom like blurred vision goes away, doesn’t mean the underlying condition is gone.
Brain tumor: A tumor in any part of your brain can cause pressure to build inside the skull. That can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision. Other warning signs of a brain tumor include unusual drowsiness, headaches that won’t go away, seizures, nausea, and vomiting.
Migraine headaches: Vision changes can also signal the onset of a migraine headache. A migraine is more than a horrible headache. People that are susceptible to migraines often find themselves debilitated for days or weeks. Blurry vision, sensitivity of the eyes to light, and seeing spots are can occur before and during migraine episodes.
Glaucoma: Glaucoma puts an unhealthy amount of pressure on the eyes, and is known as a silent disease. Unfortunately, by the time anyone notices a change in vision, the glaucoma is in an advanced state. The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends that you have your eyes checked once every two to four years when under 40 years of age; every three to five years from age 40 to 54; at least every two years after age 55; and every year after age 65.
Vision is one of the most important bodily functions we have, and it is important to take care of your eyes even if you don’t experience pain or vision problems. However, if you do experience blurred vision, it is important to take it seriously. It may be nothing, or it may be a symptom of a very serious condition that, if caught early, can be managed or even cured.