Vision Loss or Change

Is this your symptom?

  • Blindness (complete loss of vision)
  • Blurry eyesight (decreased vision)
  • Double vision (seeing double)
  • Seeing floaters (small drifting spots) or flashing lights

Some Basics...

  • Sudden loss of vision is almost always serious. A doctor's exam is needed right away.
  • New blurry eyesight, floaters, or double vision can also be serious.

Causes

Here are some causes of sudden loss of vision in one eye and clues as to the possible cause.

  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma: blurred vision in one eye, eye pain (often severe), nausea, halos around lights.
  • Central retinal artery occlusion: complete or partial vision loss in one eye, painless.
  • Central retinal vein occlusion: complete or partial vision loss in one eye, painless.
  • Optic neuritis: blurred vision, pain with eye movement, usually just one eye.
  • Retinal detachment: a shower of floaters, flashing lights, blurry eyesight, partial visual field loss (like "curtain coming down").
  • Vitreous hemorrhage: painless, may see "red", occurs in patients with diabetes.

Gradual loss of vision can occur with aging. Here are some causes of loss of vision in both eyes.

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma (open-angle)

When to Call for Vision Loss or Change

Call 911 Now

  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Blurry eyesight that started suddenly
  • Double vision
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Many floaters (many small specks seem to float across the eye)
  • Eye pain or discomfort is more than mild
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Single floater (small speck seems to float across the eye)
  • Jaw pain occurs while eating and over 50 years old
  • Headache and over 50 years old
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Blurry eyesight or vision change started slowly (weeks, months)
  • Diabetes and last eye exam was more than 12 months ago
  • Age over 65 and last eye exam was more than 12 months ago
  • You have to hold book very close to read
  • You have to close (or cover) one eye to read
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Brief blurry eyesight caused by eye strain

Care Advice for Eye Strain (Prolonged Close Work)

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Eye strain occurs when the eyes become tired from over-use.
    • It can be caused by driving, reading, or using a computer for a long period.
    • The eyes may feel dry, tired, or heavy. They may itch, burn, or water. Other symptoms are blurry vision and headache.
    • This is a common eye problem that usually goes away with resting the eyes.
  2. Rest the Eyes:
    • Lie down with your eyes closed for 10-20 minutes.
    • Or, sit quietly in a dark room for 10-20 minutes.
  3. For Dry Eyes:
    • You can use over-the-counter artificial tears if you have dry eyes.
    • Put 1 to 2 drops into each eye whenever they feel dry.
  4. Expected Course: It should get better after resting.
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 8/21/2017 1:16:43 AM
Last Updated: 7/25/2017 1:11:59 AM

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