Causes of Blurry Vision in One Eye

It’s common to experience blurry vision in only one eye. In many cases, it isn't a serious condition. But how do you know when it’s time to seek professional help from your eye doctor?

Nationwide Vision has put together some common causes of sudden blurry vision, as well as medical emergencies that can cause it.

Common: Changes in Your Vision

Developing or worsening eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism can cause your vision to appear blurry. If you have difficulty seeing close-up or at a distance, schedule an eye exam. You may need glasses or a higher strength prescription lens.

Common: Corneal Abrasion

The cornea, which is located on the front of the eye, can be easily damaged and cause temporary vision problems. The most common causes of corneal abrasion are:

  • Scratches from a fingernail

  • Harmful debris on the eye

  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

If you think you’re experiencing corneal abrasion, make sure to see your eye doctor. An untreated abrasion puts you at a higher risk for developing an eye infection.

Common: Side Effects of Medications

The next time you experience blurry vision, be sure to evaluate the medications you may be taking.  Some common medications that can affect vision¹ include antihistamines, antimalarials, corticosteroids, and antipsychotics. Those with glaucoma or diabetes are at higher risk of having a medication with vision affecting side effects. Ask your doctor or a pharmacist if a medication you are using can cause blurry vision.

Common: Dry Eye Syndrome

When your eyes cannot produce enough adequate tears, they can become dry and irritated. This can develop into a common condition called dry eye syndrome, which affects an estimated 16 million people². There are many over the counter wetting eye drops or artificial tears available for treating this condition. For a full evaluation and effective treatment options, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. Dry eye may be a warning sign of a more serious condition.

Less Common Causes of Blurry Vision

Wet or Macular Degeneration Disease

Mostly seen in older individuals, macular degeneration is a disease that affects the vision in the middle of your eye. The dry version, in which some light-sensitive cells gradually break down, usually occurs first and is slow developing. It can result in blurry central vision or make seeing in dim-lit areas more difficult.

Between 10% to 15%³ of dry macular degeneration cases develop into wet macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration causes the blood vessels in your eye to leak. This can cause blurry central vision in one eye and potentially even permanent vision loss.

It’s estimated that about 11 million people⁴ in the U.S. are diagnosed with wet or dry macular degeneration.

For more information, read our guide to macular degeneration.

Less Common: Detached Retina

The retina is the light-sensitive internal tissue lining the back of your eye. It’s possible for the retina to detach⁵ spontaneously from its normal position. This can lead to blurry vision in one eye.

Those more likely to suffer from a spontaneously detached retina are:

  • Ocular degenerative condition

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Retinal surgery

  • Family history

  • Trauma

Early symptoms of a detaching retina are flashes and floaters, which are small objects that obstruct your ability to see clearly. They are caused by the natural shrinking of the gel-like fluid in your eye.

If these risk factors or symptoms apply to you, immediately seek help from a healthcare professional.

Common Medical Emergency: Stroke

In the United States, someone suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds⁶. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain becomes blocked. This can cause many physical symptoms, along with vision problems.

A stroke is a medical emergency. If you are experiencing sudden weakness, confusion, trouble walking, or blurry vision, please call 911 for immediate help. This is a life-threatening condition that needs medical attention.

Less Common Medical Emergency: Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure is one of the less common forms of glaucoma⁷. It’s caused by blocked drainage canals in the eye, resulting in blurry vision or vision loss.

In addition to blurry vision, other symptoms can include nausea, severe head pain, and eye pain. Seek medical attention if you believe you are experiencing angle-closure glaucoma, as this condition needs immediate medical attention to treat.

Blurry Vision Problems

Schedule an Eye Exam Today

No matter the cause of your vision loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. This can help prevent the development of more harmful conditions. To schedule an eye exam, find an Nationwide Vision location near you.