Vision problems - Treatment
Vision impairment; Impaired vision; Blurred vision
See your doctor if you have any problems with your eyesight.
Call your health care provider if:
Call 911 if:
- You experience partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes, even if it is only temporary.
- You experience double vision, even if it is temporary.
- You have a sensation of a shade being pulled over your eyes or a curtain being drawn from the side.
- Blind spots, halos around lights, or areas of distorted vision appear suddenly.
- You have eye pain, especially if also red. A red, painful eye is a medical emergency.
Call your provider if you have:
- Trouble seeing objects to either side
- Difficulty seeing at night or when reading
- Gradual loss of the sharpness of your vision
- Difficulty distinguishing colors
- Blurred vision when trying to view objects near or far
- Diabetes or family history of diabetes
- Eye itching or discharge
- Vision changes that seem related to medication (Do NOT stop or change a medication without talking to your doctor.)
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
Your provider will check vision, eye movements, pupils, the back of your eye (called the retina), and eye pressure when needed. An overall medical evaluation will be done if necessary.
Your provider will ask questions about your vision problems, such as:
- When did this begin? Did it occur suddenly or gradually?
- How often does it occur? How long does it last?
- When does it occur? Evening? Morning?
- Is the problem in one eye or both eyes?
- Is your vision blurred, or is there double vision?
- Do you have blind spots?
- Are there areas that look black and missing?
- Is side (peripheral) vision missing?
- Are halos (circles of light) seen around shiny objects or lights?
- Do you see flashing lights or zigzag lines?
- Do you have sensitivity to light?
- Do stationary objects seem to be moving?
- Are colors missing? Is it difficult to differentiate colors?
- Is there pain?
- Are your eyes crossed? Does one or both of your eyes "drift"?
- Have you had an injury, infection, allergy symptoms, added stress or anxiety, feelings of depression, fatigue, or headache in the last few weeks to months? Have you been exposed to pollens, wind, sunlight, or chemicals in this time frame? Have you used any new soaps, lotions, or cosmetics?
- Is your vision better after you rest?
- Is it better with corrective lenses?
- Are there other symptoms present like redness, swelling, headache, pain, itching, discharge/drainage, a sense that something is in the eye, increased or decreased tearing, etc.?
- What medications do you take?
- Do you have diabetes, or is there a family history of diabetes?
The following tests may be performed:
Treatments depend on the cause. Surgery will be recommended for some conditions (such as cataracts). Diabetics must control their blood-sugar level.
Regular eye checkups from an ophthalmologist or optometrist are important. They should be done once a year if you are over age 65. Your doctor will recommend earlier and more frequent exams if you have diabetes or if you are already showing early signs of eye problems from diabetes, high blood pressure, or other causes.
The pressure in your eyes will be measured at some visits to test for glaucoma. Periodically, your eyes will be dilated to examine the retina for any signs of problems from aging, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
These important steps can prevent eye and vision problems:
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Don't smoke.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
- Keep your blood sugars under control if you have diabetes.
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants, like green leafy vegetables.
- Reviewed last on: 7/28/2010
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Chung JY, Singh RP. Preventive measures and screening for ophthalmic problems. In: Carey WD, ed. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine 2009. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 201.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Smith LP. Disorders of vision. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 620.
Sterns GK, McCormick GJ. Ophthalmologic disorders. In: Duthie EH, Katz PR, Malone ML, eds. Practice of Geriatrics. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 24.
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