Blurred Vision in One Eye

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What is blurred vision in one eye?

Blurred vision in one eye is a loss of visual acuity that affects only one eye. Blurred vision in one eye can be due to a number of different conditions. It may result from simple, harmless causes, such as discharge from the eyes or crying, or it may result from serious causes such as brain damage that involves one of the optic nerves. In many cases, blurred vision, whether in one or both eyes, is caused by refractive error such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, which can be corrected with the right eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Depending on the cause, blurred vision in one eye may affect your ability to resolve objects at a specific distance or at any distance. Cloudy vision, caused by loss of transparency in your lens or cornea, is sometimes called blurred vision.

In rare cases, blurred vision in one eye may indicate a disorder in the brain or central nervous system, such as a brain tumor that presses on one of the optic nerves. Because your eyes and vision are vital to your quality of life, be sure to contact your health care provider if you have blurred vision in one eye or any other eye symptoms.

Occasionally, blurred vision can be a sign of a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience blurred vision along with other serious symptoms such as a sudden change in vision, loss of vision, severe eye pain, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or a change in level of consciousness or alertness.

Seek prompt medical care if your symptom of blurred vision in one eye is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern.

What other symptoms might occur with blurred vision in one eye?

Blurred vision in one eye may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Other eye or vision symptoms that may occur along with blurred vision in one eye

Blurred vision in one eye may accompany other symptoms affecting the eye or vision including:

  • Dry eyes

  • Excessive tearing or discharge from the eye

  • Increased sensitivity to light

  • Poor nighttime vision

  • Presence of a glare or halo around lights

  • Red, sore eyes (bloodshot eyes)

Other symptoms that may occur along with blurred vision in one eye

Blurred vision in one eye may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including headaches.

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, blurred vision in one eye may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness

  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions

  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body

  • Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain

  • Sudden severe headache

What causes blurred vision in one eye?

Blurred vision in one eye may be caused by a variety of underlying conditions or diseases. Refractive errors, including nearsightedness and farsightedness, are the most common cause of blurred vision. Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) causes blurred vision that initially appears in one eye. Blurred vision in only one eye may suggest disorders that occur in the brain or central nervous system, including migraine headaches or pressure on the optic nerve from a tumor. Eye trauma is another cause that might affect only one eye, either from the injury itself or from delayed effects such as cataract formation.

In addition, systemic conditions such as diabetes can cause cataract or retinal conditions that lead to blurred vision. Some medications can cause blurred vision, although they would be more likely to affect both eyes than only one.

Common causes of blurred vision in one eye

Blurred vision in one eye may be caused by conditions including:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (disorder that causes loss of vision in the macula, the area of the retina responsible for seeing detail in the central vision)

  • Cataracts (clouding or loss of transparency in the lens of the eye)

  • Diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and blindness (serious vision complications of diabetes)

  • Dry eyes

  • Migraines

  • Myopia (nearsightedness; inability to focus on distant objects)

  • Need for corrective lenses, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses, or need for change in eyewear prescription

  • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness; inability to focus on near objects)

  • Uveitis and iritis (inflammation of structures of the eye)

Serious or life-threatening causes of blurred vision in one eye

In some cases, blurred vision in one eye may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include:

  • Brain tumor

  • Eye trauma

  • Glaucoma (disorder that damages the optic nerve, often as a result of increased pressure in the eye)

  • Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve)

  • Retinal detachment (detachment of the light-sensing layer inside your eye from the blood vessels that provide it oxygen and nutrients)

  • Stroke

  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of blurred vision in one eye

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your blurred vision in one eye including:

  • How long have you had blurred vision in one eye?

  • Is the blurriness persistent, or does it come and go?

  • Have you had any injuries in the eye area?

  • Are you currently taking any medications?

  • Are you having any other symptoms associated with your blurry vision?

  • Do you have any other known medical conditions?

What are the potential complications of blurred vision in one eye?

In most cases, blurred vision is not caused by serious conditions. However, in rare instances, it may be associated with a systemic disease or condition that, left untreated, may cause vision-threatening or life-threatening complications. If you experience blurred vision in one eye, you should contact your health care provider to determine the underlying cause of your blurred vision in one eye and get treatment if needed.

Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Brain damage

  • Loss of vision and blindness

  • Spread of cancer

  • Spread of infection

  • Unconsciousness and coma

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 3
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.
  1. Eye problems. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/tools/symptom/505.html
  2. Vision problems. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003029.html