Blurry vision is not always a cause for concern, but it can indicate a detached retina, a stroke, an infection, eyestrain, and more. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of blurry vision.

This article lists 12 potential causes of sudden blurry vision, when to seek urgent medical advice, and available treatment options.

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A detached retina is a possible cause of sudden blurry vision.

A detached retina occurs when the retina, the thin layer at the back of the eye, pulls away from the blood vessels that provide it with essential oxygen and nutrients.

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), a partially detached retina may not cause symptoms. However, when a retina fully detaches, symptoms can appear quickly, including:

Without rapid treatment, permanent damage and vision loss can occur.


There may be permanent damage to vision without rapid treatment. A person’s outlook may depend on the type of detachment they experience.

Treatment will include reattaching the retina. For minor retinal tears, a doctor may use laser surgery or freeze treatment to repair the affected parts of the eye.

If a person experiences a more severe detachment, surgery may be necessary to move the retina back into place and reattach it.

A concussion occurs when a person experiences an injury to the head.

Along with visual changes, symptoms of a concussion can include:


After a doctor ensures the injury is not severe, treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms. A person with a severe concussion may need to stay in the hospital for observation.

A person without severe concussion may need to rest for roughly 24–48 hours. They can also take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief to help reduce headache symptoms.

However, people should not take medications that can alter cognitive function and sleep patterns, as these might hide symptoms of a concussion.

Strokes can cause vision to become blurry in one or both eyes. Other symptoms include:

  • numbness in the face, leg, or arm, typically on one side of the body
  • confusion and difficulty speaking or understanding
  • difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking, as well as dizziness and lack of coordination
  • sudden and severe headache

If a person thinks that someone is experiencing a stroke, they should call the emergency services immediately and follow the procedure set out by the acronym FAST:

  • F for face: Ask the person to smile and note if one side of the face droops.
  • A for arms: Ask the person to raise both arms and note if one arm drifts downward.
  • S for speech: Ask a person to repeat a simple phrase. Make a note if they slur their speech.
  • T for time: If any of the above occurs, call the emergency services immediately.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke treatments are more effective within 3 hours of symptom onset.

Treatment will depend on the type of stroke, which part of the brain it affects, and the underlying cause.

Learn more about what to do if someone has a stroke.

Endophthalmitis is a severe infection and inflammation of the fluid or tissue inside the eye.

As well as sudden blurry vision, symptoms may include:

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blindness can occur if a person does not receive treatment quickly.


Treatment for endophthalmitis aims to treat or manage infection and reduce inflammation. Doctors may also recommend supportive therapy.

Treatment may include:

Hyphema occurs when blood pools in the eye. Blunt eye trauma is the most common cause, although other factors, such as infection, can lead to hyphema.

Symptoms may include:

  • bleeding in the eye
  • light sensitivity
  • pain
  • blurry vision


To treat hyphema, a person may need to:

  • wear a shield over the eye
  • rest
  • raise the head of the bed to help the eye drain

A doctor may also prescribe eye drops for swelling and pain.

If the hyphema causes high pressure in the eye, an ophthalmologist may offer to remove the blood surgically.

GCA, or temporal arteritis, is an inflammation of the blood vessels in the temples.

As well as blurry vision, a person with GCA may also experience headaches.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, it only affects adults, typically those over the age of 50 years.


Treatment with corticosteroids should begin as soon as possible to help prevent permanent damage to vision.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can affect the retina, causing vision to become blurry.

According to the NEI, AMD is common, particularly in older adults, and can occur in one or both eyes.


According to the NEI, there is no treatment for the early stages of AMD. However, doctors will typically recommend taking vitamins to slow progression and monitor the condition.

Lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking and eating a balanced diet, can also help to slow progression in the early stages.

If the disease progresses, a doctor may recommend injections of medications into the eye to improve symptoms or laser treatment to slow vision loss.

Macular holes are small breaks or tears in the macula and are common in adults over 60 years.

People with a macular hole may notice distortion or blurriness when they look straight ahead, and straight lines may appear wavy.


Some macular holes can repair themselves over time. However, in most cases, a doctor will recommend a vitrectomy.

The optic nerve connects the eye and the brain, transferring visual information from the retina to the brain.

Inflammation of the nerve can cause vision to become distorted or blurry. Other symptoms include:

  • pain around the eyes
  • loss of color vision
  • flashing lights


Optic neuritis may improve on its own. However, if symptoms are severe, a doctor may prescribe steroids to speed up the recovery.

Eating a healthful, balanced diet, staying hydrated, and not smoking may also help.

Some eye infections may require swift medical treatment, depending on the severity of the symptoms.


Keratitis is inflammation or infection of the cornea.

Symptoms include:

  • teary eyes
  • redness
  • irritation
  • eye pain

Treatment will depend on the underlying reason for the inflammation but may include antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal medication in the form of eye drops or pills.


Conjunctivitis is a bacterial or viral infection that affects the blood vessels in the membrane around the eyeball. Allergies can also cause conjunctivitis.

Symptoms may include:

  • blurry vision
  • eye discharge
  • pink or red coloration of the whites of the eyes

A doctor may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics for a bacterial infection or recommend OTC antihistamines for conjunctivitis triggered by an allergy.

Home remedies, such as a cold compress or artificial tears, may improve symptoms.

Orbital cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial or fungal infection that can affect the eyelids and the eyeballs.

Symptoms may also include:

  • bulging of the eye
  • trouble moving the eye
  • fever

Treatment may include antibiotics or surgery to drain fluid from the eye.


Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, the middle part of the eye, which also contains the iris. Doctors call specific inflammation of the iris iritis.

Uveitis can be due to autoimmune conditions as well as infections in the eye.

Symptoms may affect one or both of the eyes and include:

  • blurry vision
  • pain
  • sensitivity to light

Steroids can treat uveitis.

Migraine attacks sometimes involve an aura, which can cause blurry vision and flashing lights.


Treatment can involve:

  • OTC pain relief
  • triptans
  • lifestyle changes, such as less caffeine
  • relaxation techniques
  • acupuncture

Learn 15 more home remedies for migraine relief.

Using screens for a long time or focusing on something for an extended period without a break can cause eyestrain.

This may lead to sudden blurry vision, itchy eyes, or headaches.

Taking regular breaks to rest your eyes will help relieve the symptoms.

People with sudden blurry vision and one or more of the following symptoms of a stroke should call 911 or go to their nearest emergency room:

  • numbness or weakness in the face, leg, or arm, on one side of the body
  • confusion and difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • difficulty walking, dizziness, or lack of coordination
  • a severe headache

Vision loss or blurry vision with severe eye pain needs immediate treatment.

Prompt treatment can prevent further damage to the eye or help doctors identify a serious underlying health condition causing symptoms.

Below are some common questions about sudden blurry vision.

What should someone do if their vision is blurry?

Blurry vision does not always indicate a serious health condition. However, blurry vision with other symptoms, such as numbness, difficulty speaking, or a severe headache, requires immediate medical attention.

Can dehydration cause blurry vision?

Dehydration can cause dry, sunken eyes, which could lead to blurry vision. However, other symptoms, such as thirst, fatigue, and headaches, are more common.

Can low blood sugar cause blurred vision?

Vision changes, including blurry vision, can indicate low blood sugar.

Not all causes of sudden blurry vision need urgent medical treatment.

However, if a person with sudden blurry vision thinks they may be having a stroke, is experiencing severe eye pain, or thinks they may have a detached retina, they should call 911 or go to their nearest emergency room.

People with unexplained sudden blurry vision should seek advice from a healthcare professional as soon as possible, even if the episode has passed.