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Cloudy Vision - Causes


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What causes cloudy vision?

Cloudy vision may be caused by a variety of underlying conditions or diseases. Some of these conditions, such as the presence of a small particle in the eye, are very common while others may threaten your vision. Most often, cloudy vision is caused by loss of transparency in the lens within your eye or the cornea, which is the clear “window” covering the front of your eye.

Additionally, the use of some medications may cause cloudy vision. Check the potential side effects of any medications that you are taking to see if cloudy or blurry vision may be a side effect.

Common causes of cloudy vision

Cloudy vision 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)
  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
  • Dry eyes
  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Glaucoma
  • Injury to the eye
  • Macular degeneration
  • 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
  • Optic neuritis
  • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness; inability to focus on near objects)
  • Retinal vascular occlusion

Serious or life-threatening causes of cloudy vision

In some cases, cloudy vision may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Fortunately, these conditions are rare causes of cloudy vision. They include:

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  • Brain tumor
  • Corneal infection or injury
  • 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 cloudy vision

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

  • How long have you had cloudy vision?
  • Is the cloudiness persistent, or does it come and go?
  • Is the cloudiness present in one eye or both eyes?
  • Are you currently taking any medications?
  • Are you having any other symptoms associated with your cloudy vision?
  • Do you have any other known medical conditions?

What are the potential complications of cloudy vision?

In most cases, cloudy vision is caused by a condition that affects only the eye, and any complications affect vision. In other cases, it may be caused by systemic conditions, such as diabetes or brain tumor, which can be serious or life threatening. It is important to contact your health care provider to determine the underlying cause of your cloudy vision 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
  • Corneal scarring
  • Loss of vision and blindness
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection
  • Unconsciousness and coma