Vision is a crucial component to the way we live our lives. We rely on our eyes for almost all of our daily activities. Though we may experience age-related vision changes as time goes on, sudden vision changes can be a frightening experience for anyone, and a potential indicator of more serious, underlying health issues.
What Might Cause Sudden Vision Changes?
Sudden vision changes can be defined as any rapid — not gradual — changes in the quality or clarity of vision. They can occur for a variety of reasons and can affect anyone at any age, but why might they occur?
Different symptoms might be linked to different causes, and these can differ from person to person. Here’s what your sudden vision changes might mean:
Blurred vision is a common sudden vision change that can occur for various reasons. It could be a result of refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. But it can also be an indication of more serious conditions such as dry eye, cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy.
In some cases, blurry vision can also be a sign of a stroke or a brain tumor. In pregnant women, it could be a result of preeclampsia. Those with autoimmune conditions can also develop a condition called uveitis, blurred vision and light sensitivity caused by inflammation.
Also known as diplopia, double vision is a sudden vision change that makes it appear as if there are two of everything.
Double vision can be caused by various factors, including an injury or a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis or even a tumor. But it can also be a result of eye muscle coordination problems; lens-based issues such as cataracts; or a corneal problem (keratoconus, when the cornea takes on a cone shape, is one such example).
Scotomas, or blind spots, are areas you cannot see. These are sudden vision changes that occur when a person loses a portion of their visual field. People can experience one of many different types of blind spots, including:
- Relative scotomas: bright, large objects, but not dim, small ones, can be seen.
- Absolute scotomas: vision is prevented regardless of light level.
- Positive scotomas: retinal disorders may cause a black spot to appear in front of the field of vision. These centrally-located blind spots are the most harmful.
Blind spots can occur for various reasons, including the onset of migraines, glaucoma, or retinal detachment. Blind spots can also be a result of more serious neurological conditions such as optic neuritis or a brain tumor.
Flashes and Floaters
Bright flashes of light or spots floating in your vision — or other times, squiggly lines or spider web shapes — are symptomatic of these sudden vision changes that can come as a surprise to someone with otherwise normal vision. These vision changes are most often linked to the retina, or more specifically, a detachment or tear in the retina, which can lead to serious complications if not treated promptly. Flashes and floaters can also be a result of age-related changes to the vitreous humor, a clear, gel-like substance that fills the eye.
Tunnel vision is a sudden vision change that occurs when a person loses their peripheral vision, leaving only a small field of view down the center. Tunnel vision is also linked to retinal problems and its onset requires prompt medical attention.
Tunnel vision eliminates your peripheral view, while the central vision continues functioning. This condition can be caused by various factors, including glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa or a brain tumor.
Sensitivity to Light
Photophobia, aka light sensitivity, literally translates to “fear of light.” In this case, it’s when you’re acutely sensitive to all types of light, from sunlight to indoor lighting.
Photophobia is often linked to the connection between ocular cells responsible for detecting light and various nerves. Symptomatically, it can be the result of a migraine or corneal inflammation, often related to contact lens wear. Sensitivity to light can also be a sign of an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis or uveitis.
Seek Help for Any Sudden Vision Changes
If you experience any sudden vision changes, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. Regular eye exams can also help detect and prevent any potential vision problems before they become more serious.
Complete Eye Care of Medina provides comprehensive eye care for the entire family. We use state-of-the-art technology and techniques to track and treat your vision and keep you seeing clearly.
If you’re experiencing vision changes of any kind, schedule an appointment with us today.