Healthy eyes are a critical component of our overall health. Having clear vision is crucial to carry out everyday activities and experience the world around us. Everyone is likely to experience cloudy vision at one point in their lives. It might be for a minute or two upon waking, or perhaps it is more persistent due to a health condition. It is also possible that a pair of contacts need to be changed or that cloudy vision is experienced only in one eye.
Regardless, sudden cloudy vision can happen to everyone, even among those who have no other vision issues. When you get it, you may ask, “Why is my vision cloudy?” The key is recognizing what you’re experiencing, and whether it is incidental or something that demands a visit to your eye doctor. Many aging individuals suffer from cloudy vision, whereby objects appear hazy or foggy to the affected individual. Disturbance of vision is generally an indication of underlying ocular pathology. Clouded vision can have several causes.
This article will explain the primary reasons for your cloudy vision, the associated symptoms, and how to get rid of the condition and lead a happy, healthy life again.
Cloudy vs. Blurry Vision
Blurry and cloudy vision are similar, and several individuals get confused between the two. Blurred vision is characterized by a lack of focus on the objects, meaning you can’t view objects sharply and clearly like you have before. Squinting the eyes can improve clarity. Blurry vision is mostly attributed to lens issues or short and far-sightedness.
You have blurry vision if things look out of focus, but improve when you squint your eyes. Blurry vision might result in subtle color differences, but if you squint, you can see colors and color variations with clarity. Blurry vision will usually be a product of both eyes.
If it is a non-ocular issue that causes sudden cloudy vision, it may be a neurological issue. However, a trained professional must determine whether your cloudy vision is an ocular or neurological-related issue.
On the other hand, clouded vision is like looking through fog or haze. The colors may look dull, and objects appear faded. Squinting won’t help you momentarily correct cloudy eyesight. You have a cloudy vision if you feel like seeing through a foggy window. Colors are also present but appear faded, almost as if you were looking at them through a fine mesh. When you squint, nothing changes. You can still see the colors, but they look dull and muted. Cloudy vision can occur in one or both eyes.
Why Does the Distinction Matter?
It is crucial to understand what each term means because while either can be a symptom of the same condition, each has its eye issues that require a separate strategy to fix.
For example, the most common causes of cloudy vision tend to be associated with a health issue of the eye itself. With blurry vision, these structural issues can be contributing factors but also may be caused by issues completely unrelated to the eye, like a stroke or migraine.
Understanding the difference can help you describe what you are seeing (or not) to your eye doctor, and can aid them in formulating a treatment plan. Treatments for cloudy or blurry vision tend to focus on fixing the eye(s,) while treatments for blurry vision focus on issues external to the eye.
It is important to see your eye doctor as soon as possible. Not only so you can see better, but because in certain scenarios, blurry and cloudy vision can lead to permanent vision loss.
Related Symptoms of Cloudy Vision
Cloudy vision is a presentation of underlying eye disease, which in most cases is cataracts. Diabetics and hypertensives are more prone to developing cataracts and suffering from cloudy and foggy vision. Thus, cloudy vision can present as an array of symptoms, including:
People with cloudy vision face the issue of not being able to see well at night. The fogginess worsens with low light. Cloudy vision is aggravated at night, and people cannot see or drive in poor lighting.
A lot of people with foggy vision feel sensitive to bright lights. That is especially true for those having vision problems due to cataracts. Some patients often report halos and flashes of bright light.
Fading of Colors
Another evident issue associated with cloudy eyesight is fading of colors. The perception of colors is compromised with a clouded vision as they appear dull.
Double vision or diplopia is also experienced due to cloudy vision. In cases of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration-induced cloudy vision, loss of vision can ensue if the condition is left untreated. Thus, it is best to get comprehensive eye examinations as a part of your routine checkups.
Most patients are irritated by a gritty sensation in the eye(s). That may indicate an underlying corneal pathology and calls for medical attention. Serious eye conditions can lead to permanent blinding if untreated.
The Most Common Causes of Cloudy Vision
Cloudy vision can indicate an external condition, but is often caused by a condition of the eye itself. Here are a few health issues that can cause cloudy vision.
A significant cause of clouded vision is cataracts. It is a condition that progresses slowly. Cataracts happen when the lens of your eye gets cloudy. When you have cataracts, everything looks shrouded in a milky paste. You can still see until cataracts are extremely advanced, but nothing you look at is clear. Eventually, if not corrected, your vision will become obscured.
The lens starts accumulating with proteinaceous deposits that hinder normal vision with increasing age. The rate of progression of the disease is different for both eyes, so you might notice cloudy vision in one eye at a time.
Diabetics and hypertensives are at a greater risk of developing cataracts. An eye injury or eye surgery also increases your chances of hazy vision with cataracts. Middle-aged men and women should check their clouded vision because untreated cataracts can lead to blindness. While both eyes can have cataracts, the growth rate of cataracts in either eye is usually varied. That leads to one eye that can see clearer than the other. The most common health-related issues that a cataract patient has are:
- High blood pressure
- Previous eye surgery
- Prior eye injury
- Taken steroid medication for a prolonged period
The above conditions can also contribute to the development of cataracts in the eyes, which can cause blurry vision. People with cataracts typically report:
- Cloudy or milky vision
- Night and lower light vision problems
- A halo effect around all lights
- Seeing faded, washed-out colors
- Double vision in one eye
- Several rapid vision correction prescription changes
When cataracts first appear, a patient may be able to use higher lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying glasses to improve their vision. Eventually, surgery is recommended. Surgery is the only fool-proof way to get rid of cataracts.
Cataract surgery includes removing and replacing the affected lens with an artificial lens. The surgery is usually outpatient and has a very high success rate.
Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disease that allows fluid buildup in the cornea. Corneal dysfunction can lead to the development of cloudy vision. Your cornea keeps your vision clear. The slow death of the endothelial cells in the cornea constitutes Fuch’s dystrophy. Clouded vision is a common complaint in patients suffering from Fuch’s dystrophy. In addition, some patients complain of hazy or blurred vision in the morning.
Other causes of clouded vision include eye inflammation and eye infection. Injury to the eyes can also trigger vision abnormality and consequent clouded vision. Eye floaters may also be the cause of cloudiness in eyes. As the fluid builds up, cloudy vision is the result. Hazy vision first thing in the morning is usually the initial symptom that a person has Fuchs’ dystrophy. Throughout the day, the vision clears up.
Advanced symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy include:
- Blurry and cloudy vision all-day
- A feeling like you have an eyelash stuck in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Cornea blisters
Fuchs’ dystrophy is treated by:
- Eye drops for swelling
- Heat, usually from a hairdryer, to dry the surface of your cornea
- A corneal transplant, either to replace endothelial cells or the entire cornea
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a potential cause of cloudy vision in one or both eyes. This eye condition is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in people over the age of 50. Two types of AMD exist: dry and wet. Dry AMD is characterized by the accumulation of drusen protein lumps inside the eye. It causes cloudy vision in the later stages of the disease.
The occurrence of wet AMD and clouded vision is low as this form of AMD causes more severe vision loss. Macular degeneration is a common eye affliction and one of the major causes of total vision loss and cloudy vision. The disease manifests in two forms: wet and dry. With either, symptoms are slight or non-existent at first. Eventually, wavy, cloudy, and blurred vision will take over. The risk factors of macular degeneration are:
- Age: People 55 and over make up the largest patient segment.
- Family history: It is thought to have a genetic predisposition.
- Race: Caucasians are diagnosed with macular degeneration more frequently.
- Smoking: Those who smoke are more likely to have macular degeneration.
There is no cure for macular degeneration, although lifestyle changes can slow its growth. Those changes include:
- Stopping smoking
- Wearing eye protection
- Eating healthy
- And more
The dry form is the most common type of macular degeneration. Lipids and proteins called drusen build up underneath the retina’s center. Evidence indicates that vitamins and minerals including C, E, Zinc, and copper can slow the progression of the disease.
Wet macular degeneration happens when blood vessels form behind the retina and leak fluid. There are two ways to slow the growth of wet macular degeneration:
- Anti-VEGF therapy to inhibit blood vessel formation behind the retina and stop leakage.
- Laser therapy to burn small areas of the macula and slow growth.
Retinopathy refers to the disease of the retina or the structure of your eye. Diabetic retinopathy is a commonly observed condition in people with diabetes. The blood vessels can become leaky which leads to bleeding and other complications. Swelling of the retina and cloudy eyesight are evident findings in cases of diabetic retinopathy. In addition, people with comorbidities like hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and hypertension are at greater risk of diabetic retinopathy.
If you are experiencing cloudy vision and have been diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes, there is a good chance that diabetes is the cause. One of the side effects of diabetes is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Excess sugar in the blood clogs blood vessels in the retina. Any diabetes patient can develop diabetic retinopathy, and the longer a person lives with diabetes, the more likely they are to develop the problem.
Risk factors in addition to diabetes include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include cloudy vision, muted colors, dark spaces and spots in your vision, and gradual vision loss.
Early-stage diabetic retinopathy only requires monitoring by your doctor, while later stages may require surgery. Diabetic retinopathy is reoccurring, which means surgery just restarts the clock if the underlying diabetes is not managed. Treatments can include:
- Photocoagulation: This uses lasers to stop blood vessel leakage
- Vitrectomy: This is the removal of blood and scar tissue around the retina
- Anti-VEGF therapy: This reduces the growth of new blood vessels in the eye
Posterior Capsule Opacification (PCO)
Another common cause of cloudiness in eyes is posterior capsule opacification or secondary cataracts. This typically develops after cataract surgery, and it may cause cloudy vision in one eye but not the other. The main reason for PCO is the clouding of the lens. Therefore, cloudy and blurred vision are PCO’s most common initial symptoms. As it is a complication of eye surgery, post-surgical care is crucial.
External Causes of Cloudy Vision
Thankfully, not every instance of cloudy vision is a condition of age or disease. Some causes are external to the eye, including:
Eye injuries can develop sudden or gradual cloudy vision, depending on the type of injury. Cloudy vision in the case of injury is usually short-lived.
Some eye infections can cause cloudy vision. These infections include herpes, syphilis, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis. Additionally, certain bacterias can cause infection.
Inflammation happens when white blood cells collect to contain swelling. When this happens, your eye tissue can get damaged. Inflammation in the eye is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder but can also result from an injury or underlying infection.
Treatment For Cloudy Vision
Symptomatic management of clouded vision symptoms includes administering eye drops to reduce eye infection and inflammation. A combination of antibiotics and corticosteroids are given to serve both purposes.
Treatment for cloudiness in eyes relies on the underlying pathology. Infirmities like cataracts can only be corrected with surgery. Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a prosthetic lens. Our providers at Art of Optiks can inform you about the ideal lens for your condition with consideration to your eyesight and activities of daily living. The procedure is safe and very successful.
Dietary modification and glycemic control effectively manage cloudy vision due to diabetic retinopathy. Doctors usually don’t recommend any intervention for mild disease. However, surgery is the only option to correct the faulty retina. Photocoagulation or pan-retinal and vitrectomy are some surgical procedures performed to treat retinopathy.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for macular degeneration. Taking dietary supplements like vitamins C, E, and zinc can help slow down the progression of vision derangement. Intravitreal injections (anti-VEGF therapy) and laser therapy have also been shown to be effective in halting the disease.
Cloudy eyesight in Fuch’s dystrophy is due to corneal disruption. Therefore, the treatment of this condition involves a corneal transplant.
When Should You See An Eye Doctor for Cloudy Vision?
Temporary cloudiness of the vision is not an issue. However, if the symptoms persist, you should consult an eye doctor. The presence of the following symptoms warrants a visit to the optician:
- Headaches with cloudy vision
- Light hypersensitivity
- Gritty/uneasy sensation in eyes
- Eye pain from severe to sudden
Clearing Things Up
If you have any cloudy vision that persists, your best bet is to get into your eye care specialist as soon as possible. Sudden cloudy vision or issues with one eye are also cause to reach out to a talented eye doctor like the care team at Art of Optiks.
If you are diligent, you might be able to clear your eyes up through simple lifestyle changes and avoid needing surgery or more intensive treatment. Hopefully, you can find the answer to your question, “Why is my vision cloudy?” Schedule an appointment with Art of Optiks today to speak with an expert about your cloudy vision concerns.