Cloudy vision makes the world around seem foggy. To solve it, it is essential to identify the underlying cause. Please keep reading to find out.
Cloudy vision is the loss of clarity in your eyesight. It makes you feel you are looking through a fog that is not there, objects may appear hazy, and colors appear faded too.
In some cases, both eyes are affected, while there is only one eye involved in others. Sometimes, cloudy vision is a constant symptom, and in some cases, it comes and goes.
Also, the different characteristics of your cloudy visions, combined with other symptoms such as headaches, seeing halos around the light, and eye pain, will guide the clinician towards an accurate diagnosis.
Many different conditions can cause cloudy vision; some of them are due to severe eye disease and can eventually lead to permanent blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy, for example, can start as a progressive loss of visual acuity that ends up in permanent blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the number 1 cause of preventable blindness worldwide.
Please keep reading to learn more about the different causes of cloudy vision, how to diagnose them, and how to treat them. I am a medical doctor, and in this article, I will explain everything there is to know about cloudy vision.
Is cloudy vision the same as a blurry vision?
Although blurry vision and cloudy vision are quite similar symptoms, they are not the same. A person with blurry vision has trouble getting things into focus, just as a broken camera lens.
Blurry vision usually improves when the person squints at the eyes. Cloudy vision, on the other hand, is when there is a hazy or foggy vision with a decrease in visual acuity.
In cloudy vision squinting will not improve your eyesight. Both blurry vision and cloudy vision can represent underlying severe conditions. Both require a consult with an eye doctor and a thorough eye exam.
What are the most common causes of cloudy vision?
Cloudy vision can be the consequence of a wide variety of different conditions. Some of the most common causes include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Fuchs Dystrophy
- Macular Degeneration
- Acute eye injury
Do cataracts cause blurry vision?
Having a cataract means that the lens in your eye becomes progressively cloudy and thickened.
Patients with this eye condition usually present a history of constant and progressive eyesight deterioration, particularly in night vision and near vision. Patients also complain of visual disturbance with excessive sunlight and disabling glares during the day.
Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, just not at the same rate. Because of this, cataract patients have different levels of cloudiness in each eye, that can grow thicker and thicker.
Also, cataracts can interfere with your daily activities because they make it difficult to see things. For example, something like driving can be totally out of the question for patients with severe cataracts.
There are several important risks factors for cataracts which include:
- Old age: Probably the most important one
- High blood pressure
- Long term steroid medication: Transplant patients, people with autoimmune diseases.
- Previous eye surgery (like LASIK surgery)
- Having some form of eye injury due to an accident, a chemical burn, and whatnot.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most feared diabetes complications; it is a sign of advanced disease.
The exact mechanisms that lead to diabetic retinopathy are still unknown. However, it is clear that the disease damages the blood vessels in the retina.
Untreated diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of preventable blindness both worldwide and in the United States. It is also the most common eye problem in people with diabetes, followed by cataracts.
In diabetic retinopathy, the excess sugar in your blood leads to a blood vessel deficiency that prevents enough blood (hence, oxygen) from reaching the retina. There are two stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy: In this stage, damaged blood vessels leak fluid into the retina, causing the retina and the macula to swell. Macular swelling is also known as macular edema. Macular edema is the most common cause of vision loss in patients with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy can be subdivided into mild, moderate, and severe before moving to the next stage.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: In this stage, the retina responds to blood vessel damage by creating new blood vessels. These abnormal blood vessels grow in the center of the eye. New blood vessels’ appearance is not a problem by itself; the problem is that new vessels are extremely fragile and very porous. When these fragile vessels break, bleeding occurs, which in turn increases the formation of fibrotic tissue. Fibrotic tissue adheres to the vitreous humor, which can lead to retinal detachment when the vitreous moves during accommodation.
The risk of having diabetic retinopathy increases with the time of the disease. In other words, the longer you’ve had diabetes, the higher the risk of suffering from diabetic retinopathy.
What is macular degeneration?
The macula is the middle part of your retina; it is responsible for sending the retina images up to the brain.
With age, that part of the retina can deteriorate, thus causing cloudy vision. There are two types of macular degeneration:
- Dry macular degeneration: This one is caused by small lipid and protein deposits called drusen.
- Wet macular degeneration: In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form behind the retina are leaking fluid.
In the early stages of the disease, you might not notice any symptoms. As the disease progresses, it will lead to a cloudy, blurry vision.
The most critical risk factor for macular degeneration is age; other essential risk factors include smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.
Is the sudden blurred vision of an emergency?
None of the diseases mentioned so far causes a sudden vision blurring—conditions like cataract formation or diabetic retinopathy case a progressive vision problem.
The typical patient with any of these conditions cannot recall the exact moment they started having a clouded vision. Because the problem doesn’t start suddenly, these patients don’t see it as an emergency (although diabetic retinopathy certainly is one).
On the other hand, sudden blurred vision can be quite a scary experience and usually makes patients run to the emergency room.
Several causes can lead to sudden blurred vision, including:
- Retinal detachment: Retinal detachment can occur due to several different reasons. Inflammatory conditions such as uveitis can cause fluid to build up behind the retina; eventually, the liquid buildup pushes the retina, causing it to tear. Rhegmatogenous retinal detachments occur when the vitreous pulls away from the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can cause the same problem. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires immediate eye surgery to prevent permanent vision loss.
- Stroke: Some strokes, particularly occipital strokes, can produce sudden blurred vision as part of their initial presentation. It is not necessary to say that a stroke is an important medical emergency.
- Transient ischemic attack: Just like a stroke but lasts less than 24 hours.
- High blood sugar: High blood sugar levels cause the eye lens to swell, producing blurred vision.
- Migraine attacks: In some cases, migraines can come with an aura. And, eventually, the aura includes a cloudy vision of sudden onset.
Can tiredness cause cloudy vision?
Eye strain occurs when you focus your vision on a particular object for too long without resting. The most common cause is looking for too long at a computer, videogame screen, or television screen.
Less frequently, eye strain occurs after driving for too long or reading at night. Cloudy vision due to tiredness can be quickly solved with a few minutes of rest.
How do doctors diagnose the cause of my cloudy vision?
Your doctor will most of the time, make the diagnosis with a detailed history and a good physical exam. Fundoscopic examination with an ophthalmoscope can aid in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and secondary cataracts.
Your doctor may also ask for a blood test to determine the sugar levels in your body.
How is cloudy vision treated?
The treatment depends mainly on the cause. For example, the standard of care for cataracts is cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is usually safe and has a very high success rate. During the first days after the surgery, you might have to use eye drops, sunglasses, and wear a protective eye shield while you sleep.
Although you might return to your normal activities within a week after the surgery, full recovery usually takes a month.
The treatment for diabetic retinopathy is somewhat more complicated; it includes laser therapy to prevent new blood vessels from leaking into the retina and shrink abnormal blood vessels.
Anti VEFG therapy consists of an injection in your eye that prevents the formation of new blood vessels and vision loss. Laser treatment can also be very useful in the treatment of wet macular degeneration.
Do you have a cloudy vision?
Cloudy vision, as you saw, is a symptom that could exist because of several conditions. In this page, we develop tools based on symptoms that manage to identify the possible ailments behind it. In this case, it would be helpful to use the diabetes symptoms checker and cataracts symptoms checker.