Cloudy Vision: What are its major causes?
When you have a cloudy vision, your environment appears foggy.
When you are unable to see things the normal way, your quality of life gets on the low side. This explains why it is necessary to know what is causing your cloudy vision.
Blurry vision vs. cloudy vision
Many people tend to confuse cloudy vision with blurry vision. Both conditions may be similar. They may also be caused by similar factors, but then, they are still different.
- When you have blurry vision, the things you look at are completely out of focus. You can improve your sight by squinting your eyes.
- When you have a cloudy vision, it will seem as if you are looking into a fog or a haze. Even colors may seem faded or muted. Squinting your eyes will not improve your sight.
Cloudy and blurry vision can both be accompanied by symptoms like halos around lights, eye pain, and headache.
Some of the factors that cause cloudy vision or blurry vision can equally lead to blindness if left untreated.
What are the major causes of cloudy vision?
Many factors contribute to the onset of cloudy vision. Let us examine some of the most common causes:
A cataract is an eye disorder that is characterized by the cloudiness of the lens in your eye. The lens is always clear. So, when you have cataracts, it will seem as if you are staring through a foggy opening. A cataract is a major cause of cloudy vision.
As your cataract develops, it will distort your daily life, making it hard for you to see things.
Cataracts do not develop fast. They grow slowly, so your vision becomes affected as they grow. Cataracts can develop in both eyes, but the rate varies. It may develop quickly in one eye as compared to the other. This can cause a significant difference in vision in both eyes.
Another risk factor for cataracts is age. Aging can cause tissues of the lens to break down. After breaking down, they clump together, resulting in the formation of a cataract.
The following class of people also have a high risk for cataracts:
- Diabetic patients
- People who have high blood pressure
- Eye surgery
- Eye injury
- Prolonged usage of steroid medications
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry or cloudy vision
- Difficulty in seeing in low light or at night
- Sensitivity to light
- Halos in lights
- Colors appear faded
- Double vision in a particular eye
- Frequent changes to contact lens prescriptions or glasses
At the early stage, the symptoms of cataracts can be alleviated. You can achieve this by making certain changes, for instance, using bright light when you are indoors, reading with magnifying glasses, and putting on anti-glare sunglasses.
It is important to note that the most effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. The doctor will advise on surgery if it seems that your cataract is interfering with your daily life, or reducing the quality of life that you live.
Surgery for cataract involves the removal of the clouded lens. It is then replaced with an artificial lens. Surgery for cataract is an outpatient procedure and you’ll be free to return home on the same day.
Surgery for cataracts is safe and has a high success rate.
You will be given eye drops to use a few days after the surgery. Your doctor will also recommend a protective shield for you to wear before going to bed. It will take a few weeks before you can fully recover.
This is a disorder of the cornea. Your cornea has an endothelium which is a layer of cells that releases fluid out of the cornea and clears the vision. In Fuchs’ dystrophy, cells of the endothelium die slowly, leading to a buildup of fluid in the cornea. The result is a cloudy vision.
Most people do not exhibit any symptoms during the early stage of the dystrophy. Usually, the first symptom of Fuchs’ dystrophy is a hazy vision in the morning. It usually clears up during the day.
Symptoms that manifest later include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision during the day
- Blisters in the cornea. These cause pain in the eye.
- A gritty sensation in the eye
- Sensitivity to light
The prevalence of Fuchs’ dystrophy is higher in women and in people whose family has a history of the disease. Symptoms usually manifest after 50 years of age.
Treatment for this condition depends on the severity, and it includes:
- Eye drops to help reduce the swelling
- Drying the surface of the cornea with a source of heat like a hairdryer
- Corneal transplant of endothelial cells, or the cornea as a whole if the symptoms
- Eye drops to reduce swelling
- Using a heat source (such as a hairdryer) to help dry the surface of your cornea or the entire cornea if the symptoms are very severe and fail to respond to treatment.
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness. It occurs due to the deterioration of the mid-portion of the retina.
There are two forms of macular degeneration – wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.
The dry form is more prevalent than the wet form. Dry macular degeneration is caused by the buildup of drusen building under the central part of the retina.
In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form behind the retina and leaking fluid.
At first, you may not notice any symptoms, but as it progresses, you’ll notice your vision getting blurred, cloudy, or wavy.
The greatest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. Its prevalence is higher in people who are over 50 years of age.
Other factors that constitute a risk include race and family history. The Caucasians have it more. It is also common among smokers. The risk of macular degeneration can be reduced by:
- Avoiding smoking of tobacco products
- Eating healthy meals, nutritious meals
- Covering your eyes when you’re outside
- Regular exercise
Macular degeneration has no cure. However, you can slow its progression.
For dry macular degeneration, studies have shown that vitamins & supplements can slow its progression. These include vitamin C, E, zinc, and copper.
Wet macular degeneration can be treated in two ways:
- Laser therapy
- Anti-VEGF therapy: This form of therapy prevents the formation of blood vessels behind the retina, thus causing the leakage to cease. The therapy is administered via a shot in the eye. It is a very effective way of slowing the progression of wet macular degeneration.
This is a complication of diabetes that destroys vessels in the retina. It is caused by excess blood sugar. The sugar blocks the vessels that connect to the retina, thus shutting off its blood supply. New blood vessels will grow, but they are often poorly developed in diabetic patients.
Any type 1 or type 2 diabetic patient can develop diabetic retinopathy. The longer your diabetes stays, the more likely you are to have retinopathy, especially if you fail to manage your blood sugar well.
Other factors that can raise your risk of diabetic retinopathy include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Diabetic retinopathy may not cause symptoms at an early stage. However, symptoms may show up in the later stages. These include:
- Cloudy or blurred vision
- Muted colors
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Loss of vision
- Floaters (darkened areas in your field of vision)
Treatment may not be necessary for the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Your vision will be examined regularly and your doctor will inform you when there’s a need for treatment.
At the advanced stage, diabetic retinopathy will have to be treated with surgery. Surgery can slow down or stop the progression of retinopathy. However, it can develop again if diabetes is not well-managed.
Forms of treatment include:
- Anti-VEGF therapy
- Vitrectomy, where scar tissues and blood are removed via a small incision in the eye.
- Panretinal photocoagulation, where lasers are used to shrink the blood vessels.
- Photocoagulation, in which lasers are used to stop leakage of blood vessels.
What causes sudden onset of cloudy vision?
Clouded vision gets worse over time. Sometimes, a sudden clouded vision can occur in one or both eyes.
These instances include:
- Injury to the eyes
- Eye infection, such as syphilis, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and herpes.
- Inflammation in the eye. White blood cells move with speed to the eyes to contain the inflammation and swelling. As they move in, they destroy tissues in the eye and trigger a sudden cloudy vision. An autoimmune disease can also cause inflammation of the eyes. Inflammation may also be caused by injury or infections.
When to see your doctor
There’s nothing to fear if you experience slightly cloudy vision occasionally. However, you must see your doctor if the cloudiness persists for more than 24 hours.
Also, consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Vision changes
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Grittiness in the eyes that refuse to go away
- Severe pain in the eyes
When you have clouded vision, it will seem as if you staring at your environment through a foggy opening.
Cataracts are the major cause of cloudiness in one’s vision. Cataracts do not develop at all at once. They do so gradually. The most effective way of treating cataracts is via surgery. This will help with the restoration of your vision.
Other underlying causes of cloudy vision include macular degeneration, Fuchs’ dystrophy, and diabetic retinopathy. Once you notice that your vision is getting cloudy, consult your doctor without delay. They will investigate and find out the cause, and of course, the best treatments.