Visual disturbances interfere with normal sight. Several conditions and disorders may cause the various types of visual disturbances. Some are temporary and can be relieved with treatment. However, some can be permanent.

The most common visual disturbances include:

Diplopia

Diplopia is also called double vision. If you’re seeing two objects when there’s only one, you’re experiencing diplopia. This visual disturbance can be a symptom of a serious health problem. It’s important to see your doctor when symptoms begin.

There are two types of diplopia:

  • Monocular: Double vision that affects only one eye is called monocular diplopia. It can result from a physical change to the lens over your eye, the cornea, or the retinal surface. This type of double vision occurs with only one eye open.
  • Binocular: Double vision that only happens with both eyes open may be the result of poorly aligned eyes. It could also be nerve damage, which prevents your brain from properly layering the images your eyes are seeing.

Double vision can be a result of miscommunication in your brain. You experience double vision because your brain can’t overlay the two images that your eyes see.

Blindness

Partial blindness means you can see light as well as some degree of what’s around you. Total blindness refers to a condition when you can no longer see light. People with vision below 20/200 are considered legally blind. Some cases may be corrected with:

  • glasses
  • surgery
  • contact lenses

In many cases, people with partial or complete blindness can’t restore their sight.

Color blindness

Individuals who are colorblind can’t see colors in the same way that individuals with normal vision can. Most people with poor color vision are only partially colorblind. They lack the ability to differentiate between specific shades of certain colors.

Total color blindness is rare. People who are completely colorblind see only shades of gray.

Blurred vision

Blurred vision may be the result of changing eyesight or a symptom of another condition. Eyes that no longer align properly can’t receive and read visual messages. Corrective or contact lenses can fix most cases of blurry vision.

If your blurry vision is caused by another condition, it may require additional treatment. If you notice blurry vision that happens over a short amount of time, see a doctor as this may be an eye emergency.

Halos

Halos appear as circles of light around objects. They can be a sign of multiple, different eye conditions that an eye doctor needs to evaluate.

Pain

Eye pain or discomfort can vary depending on the underlying condition. It may feel like a scratching sensation when you open and shut your eyelid. A continuous throbbing that isn’t relieved by closing your eye is another type of pain

Visual disturbances can be caused by several conditions.

Double vision (diplopia)

Causes of double vision include:

Sudden onset of diplopia may be caused by:

  • stroke
  • migraine
  • brain tumor
  • aneurysm

Partial or total blindness

Blindness has many causes. The most common ones include:

Color blindness

Color blindness is more common in men than in women. The most common form is red-green color deficiency. Common causes for poor color vision or color blindness include:

  • advancing age
  • certain medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, and psychological disorders
  • diabetes
  • exposure to certain chemicals, such as fertilizers
  • glaucoma
  • heredity
  • macular degeneration, or inflammation of the optic nerve
  • optic neuritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • sickle cell anemia

Blurred vision

Causes of blurred vision can include one or more of the following:

  • cataract
  • corneal abrasion or infection
  • glaucoma
  • inadequate prescription glasses or contact lens
  • macular degeneration
  • migraine
  • optic nerve problems
  • trauma or injury to the eye
  • tumor
  • stroke

Halos

Halos can be caused by any of the following:

  • cataract
  • damage or disease that affects your eye’s cornea
  • glaucoma
  • migraine
  • ocular migraine

Pain

There are many causes of eye pain. A few of them are listed here:

  • bacterial infection
  • conjunctivitis, or pink eye
  • glaucoma
  • injury or inflammation in the eyelids
  • migraine headache
  • optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve
  • problems with contact lens
  • sinus headache or sinus infection
  • stye, an inflamed oil gland that develops on your eyelids

A doctor needs to evaluate eye pain, as some causes can result in irreversible damage to your eyes.

Anyone can experience a visual disturbance at any time. Several conditions put you at an increased risk for one or more of the most common visual disturbances. These conditions include:

  • brain tumor
  • cataracts
  • diabetes
  • glaucoma
  • macular degeneration
  • migraine

If any visual disturbances begin suddenly and unexpectedly, see a doctor immediately. Although the visual disturbance may be the result of a minor problem, vision disturbances can be the first symptom of other serious conditions, such as:

Your doctor will likely perform several diagnostic tests to determine what’s causing your visual disturbance. These tests might include:

  • physical exam
  • eye exam
  • blood tests

Imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, may also be used to confirm a problem or further investigate a suspected condition.

The first step in treating a visual disturbance is figuring out the underlying problem that’s causing it. Once your doctor has discovered the issue, they can help you develop a treatment plan. In some cases, the disturbance will go away naturally.

For example, blurry vision caused by a headache will usually resolve when the headache recedes. Your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent future headaches. They may choose to prescribe medicine that you can take when a headache that causes visual complications begins.

There are several common treatments for visual disturbances:

  • Medication: Drugs can sometimes treat underlying conditions so that they no longer cause symptoms.
  • Dietary changes: If you’re having concerns managing your diabetes, but you can make lifestyle changes and get assistance in managing your condition, the changes, such as your diet, can sometimes prevent visual disturbances.
  • Glasses, contact lenses, or magnifying devices: These may be able to correct vision disturbances that can’t be corrected with another treatment.
  • Surgery: When necessary, surgery can help relieve or repair damaged nerves and muscles.

Several conditions and disorders may be the cause of your visual disturbance. Anyone can experience a visual disturbance at any time.

If you experience a visual disturbance that begins suddenly and unexpectedly, see a doctor immediately. While some visual disturbances may be permanent, some can be temporary and relieved with treatment.