What causes cloudy vision in one eye?

Cloudy vision can make you look like you’re always looking in fog or haze. It can occur in one or both eyes.

This article describes common and rare causes of cloudy vision and their treatments. It also explains when cloudy vision in one eye is most likely a minor problem rather than a more serious condition.

What is cloudy vision?

Although they sound similar, there is a difference between “cloudy” and “blurred” vision.

  • Cloudy visuals feel like you’re looking through fog or haze.
  • Blurred vision means what you’re seeing is out of focus.

In addition to feeling like you’re looking through a dirty or foggy window, cloudy vision may include:

  • see fading or halos around lights
  • Can’t see at night

eye anatomy

reason

There are a number of different conditions, both common and rare, that can cause blurred vision. Many of these are mild, but some can be serious. Below is information about these conditions.

Common causes

floating object

Floaters are one of the most common causes of blurred and cloudy vision. These look like wavy lines, spots or other shapes moving in your sight.

In most cases, floaters are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own. However, if a large number of people show up suddenly, or cause loss of central or peripheral vision, it’s time to see a healthcare provider. (Peripheral vision allows you to see from one side of your eye, rather than directly in front of you.)

injury, infection, or inflammation

Sometimes cloudy vision can be due to:

  • eye injury
  • eye infections (such as conjunctivitis)
  • eye inflammation
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cataract

Usually as people age, proteins in the eyes break down and clump together. These clumps appear as cloudy spots on human footage. These spots are called cataracts.

In cases of mild cataracts, a person may initially have no symptoms. But ultimately, the most visible sign of this condition is blurred vision. Other people’s eyes may also look cloudy.

Other symptoms of cataracts include:

  • color that looks faded
  • poor night vision
  • Lights, sunlight, or headlights that seem too bright
  • Halos appear around lights
  • double vision
  • Often having to change prescriptions for glasses

rare cause

Fuchs malnutrition

Fuchs dystrophy is a corneal disease that occurs when cells lining the cornea die. (The cornea is the clear dome that covers the eye; it is made up of five very thin layers of tissue.) This causes fluid to build up on the cornea, making a person’s vision cloudy or blurred.

There are two stages of malnutrition in Fuchs. During the first stage, many people do not notice any symptoms. If they have symptoms, it’s their blurry vision the first time they wake up in the morning.

Symptoms of stage 2 do not go away during the day and may include:

  • feeling of sand or grit in your eyes
  • particularly sensitive to bright light
  • eye problems that get worse in wet areas
  • Scarring in the center of the cornea causing very blurred or hazy vision

macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula at the back of the eye begins to break down. Symptoms of this condition may include:

  • cloudy view
  • blurred vision
  • Blank or black spot in field of vision
  • Waves or curves appear in straight lines
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diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that can cause blurred vision or vision loss in people with diabetes.

While the early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually have no obvious symptoms, later stages may include changes in vision or seeing black, floating spots or streaks that look like spider webs.

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Cloudy vision can be temporary—caused by minor problems such as floaters—or permanent unless treated with surgery such as cataracts.

When to see a healthcare provider

Anytime you have vision problems — including blurred vision in one or both eyes — it’s best to see a healthcare provider.

In addition to cloudy vision in one or both eyes, have a full eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have:

  • Inability to see objects in peripheral vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or when reading
  • gradual loss of vision
  • Difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Blurred vision when trying to see near or far objects
  • diabetes or family history of diabetes
  • itchy or discharge eyes
  • Vision changes that appear to be drug-related (However, don’t stop or change your medication without talking to your healthcare provider.)

When is the sudden appearance of cloudy vision in one eye a medical emergency?

In some cases, sudden cloudy vision in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires urgent medical attention. These signs include:

  • Partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes, even temporarily
  • double vision, even temporarily
  • Feelings of shadows covering your eyes or pulling curtains from the side, above, or below
  • Blind spots, halos around lights, or areas of sudden visual distortion
  • Sudden blurred vision accompanied by eye pain, especially if the eye is also red. Eye redness, pain, and blurred vision is a medical emergency.

treat

Treatment for cloudy vision in one or both eyes depends on the underlying cause. Here are some causes and their treatments:

  • Cataracts: Surgery is the only option.
  • Fuchs’ dystrophy: There is no cure, but depending on the severity of the case, it can be treated with eye drops or a corneal transplant.
  • Macular degeneration: There is no cure, but it is usually treated with certain nutritional supplements, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (a drug that stops the growth of blood vessels in the eye), and photodynamic therapy.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This can be treated with eye injections, laser surgery, or other types of eye surgery.

Eye infections are usually treated with topical or oral medications.

generalize

An infection (such as conjunctivitis) or floaters may cause clouding in one or both eyes, both of which are common and not serious. Cataracts can cause vision to become cloudy with aging and require minor surgery. Other more serious causes of blurred vision include macular degeneration and diabetes.

VigorTip words

If you notice that your vision is blurry, make a note of when it started and how long you have had it. Be sure to provide this information to your healthcare provider. If cloudy vision is accompanied by any of the above symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible.