Blurry Vision in One Eye: Causes and Related Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By Katherine E. Duncan, MD

Blurry vision in one eye can be due to a number of different conditions or causes. Blurry vision means you may not be able to see clearly and have impaired vision. Common causes of blurry vision in one eye include infections, refractive errors, migraine, and underlying medical conditions.

This article will explain what blurry vision in one eye is, and what can cause it. It will also explain when to seek treatment for various causes and conditions.

What is blurry vision in one eye?

abstract image of a person
recep-bg/Getty Images

Blurry vision means you may have trouble seeing clearly. It can affect your whole vision or just parts of it such as in one eye.

Blurry vision may result from a simple, harmless cause such as discharge from the eyes or crying. It may also result from serious causes such as brain damage involving one of the optic nerves.

In many cases, blurry vision is caused by refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. These can occur in one or both eyes. Refractive errors can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Read more about blurry vision.

What causes blurry vision in one eye?

Blurry vision in one eye may affect your ability to resolve objects at a specific distance, or at all distances. The nature and severity of the blurriness depends on the cause.

Cloudy vision, caused by the loss of transparency in your lens or cornea, is sometimes called blurry vision.A variety of underlying conditions or diseases may cause blurry vision in one eye. Refractive errors, including nearsightedness and farsightedness, are the most common causes Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source of blurry vision.

What are the common causes of blurry vision in one eye?

In some cases, blurry vision may be temporary or unrelated to an underlying condition. These cases can usually be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or over-the-counter medications.

Refractive errors

Refractive errors mean the shape of your eye is unable to bend light properly, resulting in blurry vision.

Common refractive errors that may cause blurry vision in one eye include Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source :

  • myopia, or nearsightedness, which is an inability to focus on distant objects
  • presbyopia, which is age-related worsening of near vision
  • hyperopia, or farsightedness, which is an inability to focus on near objects
  • astigmatism

Symptoms of refractive errors include:

  • double or hazy vision
  • headaches and migraines
  • seeing glares or halos with bright lights
  • having to squint to focus
  • eye strain

Treatment for blurry vision in one eye due to refractive errors usually involves wearing glasses or contact lenses. It can also include surgery to change the shape of your cornea.

Read more about nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes mean the eyes are unable to lubricate themselves sufficiently with natural tears. According to the National Eye Institute Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source , millions of people in the United States experience dry eyes each year. Dry eyes mainly affect those over 50 years old.

Treatment for dry eyes can include:

  • over-the-counter eye drops
  • lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking
  • limiting screen time
  • warm compresses or eye masks
  • surgery to fix loose lower eyelids

Read more about dry eyes.

Migraine

A migraine can cause blurry vision in one or both eyes. Migraines are common and affect around 10% of the world’s population.

Symptoms of a migraine include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • seeing lights around objects, known as “auras”
  • sensitivity to bright lights and sounds

Treatments for a migraine can include painkillers such as ibuprofen, antinausea medication, or specialist treatments such as botox.

Read more about migraines.

There are various conditions that may cause blurry vision in one or both eyes.

Cataracts

A cataract is the loss of transparency in the lens of your eye. They usually develop as you age, and can cause blurry vision.

Doctors recommend treating cataracts with surgery once they begin to affect your ability to do certain tasks. These can include tasks such as driving or reading.

Read more about cataracts.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source vision loss and potentially permanent blindness. It is usually hereditary and is caused by damaged nerves.

Glaucoma is treated with medications and laser surgery to reduce the loss of vision.

Read more about glaucoma.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 60 and can develop in one or both eyes. It occurs when the center of the retina deteriorates.

Macular degeneration is treated with medications and surgery, as well as rehabilitation to adjust to the loss of vision.

Read more about macular degeneration.

Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, which is the material that lines the inner eyes. Infections of the uvea can cause Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source uveitis.

Uveitis can also occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissue in the eye.

Treatment for uveitis can include eye drops, steroids, and implant devices that deliver small doses of steroids to the eye.

Encephalitis

Encephalitis is inflammation in the brain due to an infection. Infections in the brain are typically caused by viruses.

Symptoms of encephalitis can include blurry vision or uncontrollable eye movements. Treatment will vary depending on the type of encephalitis.

Read more about encephalitis.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the membrane that lines your eyelid and eyeball. It can occur in one eye only, causing blurry vision.

Antibiotic eye drops are sometimes used to treat conjunctivitis caused by bacteria. Conjunctivitis that is caused by a virus is usually left to resolve on its own.

Good hand hygiene can prevent the spread of conjunctivitis from one eye to the other.

Read more about conjunctivitis.

Diabetic eye disease

Diabetic eye disease refers to various eye conditions caused by diabetes. Up to 90% of conditions related to diabetic eye disease are preventable.

Diabetes can damage small blood vessels in the eyes and lead to conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.

Low blood sugar levels can also affect the shape of your eye lens, which may cause blurry vision.

Read more about diabetic eye disease.

Corneal ulcer

A corneal ulcer may occur in one or both eyes. It is an open sore on your cornea, usually resulting from an infection.

Symptoms of a corneal ulcer include redness of the eye, pain, and blurry vision. Treatment involves antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal eye drops.

Read more about corneal ulcers.

Optic neuritis

Optic neuritis occurs when inflammation damages the optic nerve. It can cause temporary vision loss in one eye, and treatment usually involves corticosteroids.

What are serious or life threatening causes of blurry vision in one eye?

In some cases, blurred vision in one eye may be a symptom of a serious or life threatening condition. Such cases should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.

Brain tumor

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal growth in your brain. Although relatively rare, they can cause headaches, blurry vision, confusion, and seizures.

Increased pressure in the skull from a brain tumor can cause your optic disc to swell, resulting in blurry vision.

Read more about brain tumors.

Eye trauma

Injuries to the eye can lead Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to blurry vision along with other serious symptoms. These can include eye deformities, loss of vision, or even loss of the eye itself.

Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment occurs when your retina detaches itself from its usual position at the back of the eye. Symptoms can include blurry vision or a shadow over your field of vision.

Retinal detachment can result in permanent vision loss if not treated quickly.

Read more about retinal detachment.

Stroke

Blurry vision or sudden changes to your sight in one or both eyes can be a symptom of a stroke.

Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or restricted, preventing the brain tissue from receiving oxygen.

Seek immediate medical advice if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of a stroke.

Read more about strokes.

When should you contact a doctor?

In rare cases, blurry vision in one eye may indicate a disorder in the brain or central nervous system. This can include conditions such as a brain tumor that presses on one of the optic nerves.

Occasionally, blurry vision can be a sign of a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical care if you experience blurred vision along with other serious symptoms such as:

  • sudden changes in vision
  • loss of vision
  • severe eye pain
  • sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • a change in the level of consciousness or alertness

What are the complications of blurry vision in one eye?

In most cases, blurry vision in one eye is not caused by a serious condition. However, in rare instances, blurry vision can be the result of an underlying condition. Left untreated, it may lead to vision threatening or life threatening complications.

Contact your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of blurry vision. They will be able to diagnose the underlying cause and design a treatment plan specifically for you.

To reduce your risk of complications, it is important to follow any treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

Complications of blurry vision include:

  • brain damage
  • loss of vision and blindness
  • spread of cancer
  • spread of infection
  • unconsciousness and coma

Summary

Blurry vision in one eye can occur for a variety of reasons. These can range from underlying conditions such as a diabetic eye disease to common refractive errors such as nearsightedness.

It is important to seek medical advice if you have blurry vision in one or both eyes. Some underlying conditions can result in permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Was this helpful?
7

Medical Reviewer: Katherine E. Duncan, MD
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 24
View All Eye Health Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.