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Blurred Vision in One Eye After Head Injury: What Does it Mean?

Young woman covering on eye and squinting at a handheld laptop computer because she has blurred vision in one eye after head injury

Blurred vision in one eye can sometimes occur after a head injury. There are several possible causes of blurred vision, some more serious than others.

You’re about to learn why you might have blurred vision in one or both eyes after a head injury and what you can do about it.

Let’s get started.

Causes of Blurred Vision in One Eye After Head Injury

There are multiple factors that can trigger blurred vision in one eye after a head injury. One of the most common is a condition known as accommodative dysfunction.

In normal vision, the eyes can switch their focus from near objects to far, and vice versa. This process is known as “accommodation” and is what allows objects to look clear when you focus on them.

Sometimes, however, this skill can be lost. For example, most people when they reach the age of 40 lose their ability to switch focus, which is why they develop farsightedness or nearsightedness. This can also occur after a head injury.

If a head injury damages the eye itself or the nerves responsible for controlling eye muscles, the eye can lose its ability to focus. As a result, blurred vision can occur in one or both eyes.

Other Reasons for Blurry Eyesight

woman holding glasses and rubbing eye because she has blurred vision in one eye after head injury

©iStock/Doucefleur

There are a few other factors that may also cause blurred vision in one eye after a head injury. These include:

  • Dry eye. Sometimes a concussion can damage a person’s blink response. If the eye gets too dry, blurred vision can result.
  • Ocular migraines. Migraines are particularly frequent after a head injury. Some migraines are accompanied by vision problems such as blurred vision or flickering lights.
  • Detached retina. Sometimes, after a head injury, the retina can tear away from the back of your eye and lose its blood supply. If that occurs, your vision in one eye will become blurred. Detached retinas can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.
  • High blood sugar. Very high blood sugar levels, which are common in diabetes patients, can cause the lens of your eye to swell, which results in blurred vision.
  • Stroke. Finally, sudden blurred vision or vision loss in one eye may be a sign of a stroke occurring in your eye. Since head injury increases a person’s risk of stroke, it’s important for patients to understand this risk.

As you can see, some of these causes are minor, such as dry eye. Others, however, such as stroke or a detached retina, require immediate treatment.

But how can you tell whether sudden blurred vision in one eye is an emergency situation? We’ll cover that in the next section below.

When is Blurred Vision in One Eye an Emergency?

blurry image of hospital emergency room

©iStock/OZANKUTSAL

The following signs could indicate that you have a serious eye condition that requires emergency treatment.

  • Sudden eye pain.
  • Eye injury, such as broken blood vessels.
  • Signs of stroke, such as facial drooping, weakness on one side, or slurred speech.
  • Loss of one area of your vision, also known as visual field loss.

If you have any of these symptoms, go to the ER for an immediate evaluation. Even if you don’t have these issues, call your optometrist as soon as you experience blurred vision in one eye after a head injury.

While it may not be an emergency, it is still a good idea to have your eye examined by a professional. The sooner you can receive treatment, the more likely you are to preserve your eye function.

Symptoms that Accompany Vision Problems After Head Injury

Besides blurred vision in one eye, there are several other eye symptoms that often accompany a head injury. These include:

Sometimes these issues can actually make blurred vision worse. Therefore, it’s important to address them during treatment as well.

For instance, floaters are microscopic fibers within the eye that tend to increase with age. However, if you notice a sudden increase in floaters after your head injury, that could be a sign of retinal detachment. That’s why it is crucial to get your eye examined by a doctor as soon as you notice changes in your vision.

How to Treat Blurry Vision in One Eye After Head Injury

optometrist evaluating patient with blurred vision in one eye after head injury

Treatment for blurred vision in one eye after head injury will depend on the cause of the vision problem. For example, if a detached retina is behind your sudden blurred vision, doctors will need to operate on your eye to repair the retina.

If, on the other hand, your blurred vision is caused by accommodative dysfunction, vision therapy exercises may help.

Vision therapy can strengthen the muscles that the eyes use to focus on objects. By strengthening these muscles, you can train your eye to relearn how to switch focus again. This can help reduce blurred vision.

Click here to learn more about eye exercises for head injury patients »

Finally, treating your blurred vision after a head injury can be as simple as using corrective lenses or contacts. Sometimes even eye drops can quickly clear up blurred vision.

Therefore, you should consult an optometrist as soon as blurred vision occurs. Your optometrist can suggest the best treatment options for you and can determine whether you require surgery or not.

Blurred Vision in One Eye: Key Points

Blurred vision in one eye can occur for a variety of reasons, some of them quite serious.

If you experience sudden blurred vision in your eye after a head injury, call your doctor right away. It is possible that you have a detached retina, which requires immediate treatment.

Even if you do not have a detached retina, an eye doctor can point you towards the best treatment approach to address your blurred vision. Some approaches, such as vision therapy, are noninvasive and can help you strengthen your eye muscles.

In the end, prompt treatment of blurred vision after a head injury is the best way to ensure a good outcome and preserve your eye function. Good luck!

Featured Image: ©iStock/Giulio Fornasar

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