Why Is My Vision Cloudy?

Medically Reviewed By Grace Zhang, MD
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There are many possible causes of cloudy vision, like cataracts. Sudden cloudy vision may be due to injury, infection, or inflammation. This article will discuss the causes of cloudy vision and the treatments for them. It will also talk about when to contact a doctor.

Cataracts

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Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of your eye. You can develop them in one or both eyes. More than half of the people in the United States who are more than 80 years old have cataracts or have had surgery to correct cataracts. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the U.S.

You may not experience any symptoms of cataracts at first. However, over time you will typically begin to notice changes. These include:

  • cloudy or blurry vision
  • colors looking faded
  • night vision decreasing
  • sensitivity to light
  • double vision
  • frequent changes in glasses prescriptions

These symptoms may result from other eye conditions. Contact your eye doctor if you notice any changes to your eyes or vision.

Treatment for cataracts typically includes:

  • making early changes at home:
    • using brighter lights
    • wearing anti-glare sunglasses
    • using a magnifying lens for reading
  • getting new glasses or contacts as needed
  • having surgery

Learn more about cataracts.

Fuchs’ dystrophy

Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy is a condition that affects the cornea. It develops when the innermost layer of the cornea cells begin to die off. These cells usually control the fluid going to the cornea to help keep it clear. When they die off, the fluid builds up, causing the cornea to become swollen and your vision to become cloudy.

Fuchs’ dystrophy has two stages:

Stage 1 or early stage: During this stage, you may only notice a few symptoms or you may not have any symptoms at all. The main symptom you may experience is your vision being cloudy first thing in the morning and improving throughout the day.

Stage 2 or later stage: In this stage, you may notice that your vision does not improve throughout the day. Blisters may also form on the cornea. Your eyes may feel gritty and might feel sensitive to light.

Treatment for Fuchs’ dystrophy typically involves eye drops or ointment to manage and reduce swelling. In severe cases, a corneal transplant may be necessary.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition that involves your retina. It occurs when the macula, a part of the retina that is in the center and is responsible for central vision, becomes damaged.

Macular degeneration causes you to lose your central vision while your peripheral vision remains intact. It is a common condition and the leading cause of sight loss in people who are more than 50 years old.

Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

  • blurry or cloudy vision
  • difficulty seeing in low light
  • straight lines looking wavy or crooked
  • blank spots in your vision
  • colors beginning to fade

Treatment for macular degeneration includes:

  • vitamins, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc
  • AREDS 2 Formula vitamins and supplements
  • eye-healthy diet, like leafy greens, yellow fruits, and fish
  • medications
  • injections for wet macular degeneration
  • surgery, in rare cases

Treatment depends on the type and stage of macular degeneration. Speak with your doctor before taking medication or making changes to your diet.

Learn more about macular degeneration.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition resulting from diabetes. It develops when high blood sugar levels from diabetes cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • floaters in your vision
  • blurry or cloudy vision
  • vision that changes from blurry to clear
  • blank or dark areas in your field of vision
  • decreased night vision
  • colors appearing faded or washed out
  • loss of vision

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy includes:

  • diabetes management
  • medication
  • laser surgery

Learn more about diabetic retinopathy.

Posterior capsule opacification

Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) is a rare complication of cataract surgery. After the cataract surgery, your vision can begin to become cloudy again. This can happen weeks, months, or years after the procedure.

PCO happens when the cells leftover from the cataract surgery begin to grow back. This is growth involves a thin film growing over your lens. It clouds your lens and makes your vision cloudy as well.

Laser surgery is the typical treatment to clear this cloudiness.

Learn more about cataract surgery.

What can cause sudden cloudy vision?

There are a few different causes of your vision suddenly becoming cloudy in one or both eyes. Typically, cloudy vision develops slowly. If your vision suddenly becomes cloudy, you may require immediate medical attention.

Some causes of sudden cloudy vision include:

If your vision suddenly becomes cloudy, contact your doctor.

Cloudy vision vs. blurry vision

People often confuse cloudy vision and blurry vision. They are similar and share many of the same causes. However, they are very different issues.

  • Cloudy vision: This is when objects you look at appear to be behind a haze or a fog. Your vision may seem to be milky.
  • Blurry vision: This is when objects you look at appear out of focus or soft around the edges.

Blurry vision is a common symptom of nearsightedness or farsightedness. Both of these conditions are treatable with glasses or contact lenses.

Learn more about blurry vision.

When to contact a doctor for cloudy vision

Cloudy vision that is mild and only lasts for a couple of days is not generally a cause for concern. However, if the cloudiness lasts longer than that or worsens, contact your eye doctor.

Also contact your eye doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • eye pain that comes on suddenly or is severe
  • cloudy vision accompanied by a headache
  • significant changes to your vision
  • sudden vision loss
  • sensation that a curtain comes down over your vision
  • light flashes
  • grittiness in your eyes

Summary

There are many possible causes of cloudy vision. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, and Fuchs’ dystrophy.

Generally, mild cloudiness in your vision is not something to concern yourself about. However, if it worsens or lasts more than a couple of days, contact your doctor.

If you have cloudy vision that accompanies a headache or eye pain that is severe or sudden, contact an eye doctor right away.

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Medical Reviewer: Grace Zhang, MD
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 9
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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