Visual impairment, focusing problems? Sudden, chronic visual impairment

Visual impairment, focusing problems? Sudden, chronic visual impairment
Photo source: Getty images

Visual impairment can be congenital, acquired, permanent, or temporary. It can be caused by old age, degenerative diseases, and inflammation. Visual impairment is also a symptom of diseases outside the eyes.

Visual impairment can be a symptom of a disorder directly in the eye. Sometimes it is a symptom that is caused by another disease in the body. Often there are disturbances and deterioration of visual acuity, limitation of the field of vision, double vision, colour vision disorders and so on.

Visual impairment can also occur due to other diseases. These may be of metabolic or nervous origin. Sometimes the cause is an injury and damage to the eye or brain as a result of it. Thus, vision and the visual centre may also be affected.

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Eye disease and visual impairment

People can have these disorders either inherited or acquired due to environmental or eye strain, for example, when working with a computer or reading in unsuitable conditions.

Age is one of the causes. After the age of 40, it is normal for the lens to no longer have its full ability to adapt. Ageing is a natural process. The term geriatric syndromes, which brings together several symptoms associated with older age, has been coined.

These include the syndrome:

  • reduced mobility, muscle weakness
  • instability with falls
  • anorexia and malnutrition
  • dehydration (reduced fluid intake)
  • incontinence (involuntary passing of urine, faeces)
  • cognitive deficits, memory and behavioural disorders
  • combined sensory deficit, and there are visual impairments (macular degeneration), hearing
  • maladaptation (poor adaptability)
  • neglect, abuse, elder abuse
  • terminal geriatric deterioration (loss of intellect)

Another cause of visual impairment could be inflammation, such as conjunctivitis, but also inflammation of deeper parts of the eye, namely the retina, iris, optic nerve. An allergic reaction could also be behind the disorder.

Nearsightedness, farsightedness and hyperopia

Visual disturbances are most often related to defects and diseases in the eye. The most common disease is myopia (nearsightedness). In this condition, light rays converge in front of the retina and do not form a sharp image on the retina. Vision at longer distances is impaired.

Hyperopia is also a very common eye defect. In this eye defect, the light rays converge behind the retina and therefore do not form a sharp image on the retina. The person cannot see near objects well, but can see distant objects well.

Glasses, book, impaired vision
Farsightedness, i.e. hyperopia, makes it harder for a person to see up close. Photo source: Getty Images

Vetchosrakos(presbyopia) is a result of natural ageing. The cause is a reduction in the ability of the lens to accommodate. It is not an eye defect or disease in the true sense of the word.

It usually occurs after the age of 40 to 50. It affects everyone. We also know the term short-handedness, where it is necessary to zoom out on close objects or text in order to see sharply.

This reduces the sharpness of vision.

The first manifestation is therefore reduced acuity at close range, later also at medium or longer distances. Eye fatigue and redness, headaches are also associated.


Cataract is also a very common eye disease. It affects the lens of the eye and causes blurred and blurred vision. The deterioration of vision progresses slowly and the person does not see any problems at the beginning of the disease.

Only later does he or she have problems seeing into the distance. Gradually, vision becomes blurred and sometimes there is a different perception of colour in each eye. Treatment involves surgically replacing the clouded lens with an artificial lens that is implanted into the original case.

Green opacity

Among the eye defects that also cause visual disturbances and deterioration is glaucoma. This disease is technically called glaucoma. Basically, it is not a glaucoma, but an increase in intraocular pressure. This causes damage to the optic nerve.

Most often, there is a build-up of excess intraocular fluid and consequently, because of this, there is a deterioration of vision, pain in the eye and a feeling of pressure on the eye. Treatment is medical, laser or surgical.

Corneal degeneration and dystrophy

Keratoconus, degeneration of the cornea
Keratoconus. Photo source: Getty Images

Degenerations are secondary diseases. They are conditioned by age and systemic diseases, for example. Dystrophies, on the other hand, are primary diseases. Age has no influence and neither do other diseases.

Examples of these diseases are:

  • Keratoconus
  • Keratoglobus
  • Pelucid marginal degeneration
  • Spheroid degeneration
  • Zonular keratopathy
  • Dystrophy of the epithelium and Bowman's membrane
  • Stromal dystrophies
  • Endothelial dystrophy

Corneal ulcer

A corneal ulcer is damage to the surface of the cornea. This subsequently progresses to a deeper layer and extends over the surface. This damage heals with a scar. This deteriorates the transparency, resulting in visual impairment.

This ulcer can be caused by trauma, but also by infection. It is most often of viral origin, caused by herpesvirus or adenovirus. A complication is subsequent bacterial infection. Treatment for bacterial inflammation is with antibiotics. Surgical treatment involves replacing the cornea with a transplant.

Dry eye syndrome

Caused by reduced blinking and therefore washing of the eye, which reduces its moisture. Reduced tear production or poorer tear quality is also present.

Tip: read about dry eye syndrome.

Tears contain water, mucus, oil and their main function is to moisten and protect the eye. In addition to impaired vision, this syndrome causes pain, burning, cutting and redness of the eyes.

Other diseases and visual impairment

Visual disturbances also occur in diseases outside the eye. These diseases, of course, have other symptoms. If there are more than one symptom, an examination is needed. Even the visual deterioration itself should be a warning that something is wrong.

Diabetes and high blood pressure

The man is diabetic, he measures his blood sugar with a glucometer
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes. Photo source: Getty Images

Deterioration of vision can also be related to diabetes or high blood pressure, for example. In the case of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is a very common condition in which changes occur in the retina of the eye, specifically in the blood vessels.

This disease usually complicates the situation also with blood pressure or with inflammation of the blood vessels. Typical accompanying symptoms include loss of visual field or temporary blindness, so the disease should be treated as soon as possible.

In infectious diseases

Blurred vision and visual disturbances also accompany some infectious diseases that are febrile in nature. This is usually a transient condition that resolves with the cure of the infection.

Even with pituitary adenoma

Problems with impaired vision are also typical of pituitary tumours, such as pituitary adenoma, where there are changes in hormone levels. An example of such a tumour is prolactinoma.


Acromegaly is caused by overproduction of the hormone somatotropin in the pituitary gland. The main symptoms are enlargement of the jaws, upper skull, hands and feet.

In epilepsy

Visual disturbances can also occur in people with epilepsy. This is a disease of the nervous system that characteristically manifests itself in epileptic seizures. In these, typical muscle twitches and spasms occur, and the person may have disturbances in emotions and movement.

There are also visual disturbances, visual field disturbances, peripheral vision disturbances and sometimes there is a risk of temporary blindness during the epileptic seizure itself. Treatment is in the form of medication and, in case of failure, surgery.

Cerebral palsy as a cause

Visual impairment also occurs in cerebral palsy. A child may squint, for example, if the eye muscles are damaged and do not work symmetrically. Alternatively, there may be blunt vision. In this case, the condition must be surgically resolved.

Other neurological diseases

Other causes of visual impairment may lie behind multiple sclerosis. Anton-Babinski syndrome is a cortical blindness that has occurred through damage to both visual centres. The cause of the damage may be, for example, trauma, cerebral vascular cause. In addition to visual impairment, other symptoms are present, namely denial of blindness, perceptual disturbances, confusion.

Elderly man has vertigo, dizzy
Head spinning and temporarily impaired vision. Photo source: Getty Images

Even with vertigo, in which the head is spinning, there is a visual impairment, especially a deterioration of acuity when the head moves. Even with increased intracranial pressure, this disorder can be a symptom.

The increase in pressure in the skull has a negative effect on the brain. The brain is housed in a solid cavity and the increase in pressure oppresses it. The cause may be trauma, stroke or cerebrospinal fluid dysregulation, among others.

Deterioration of vision during pregnancy

During pregnancy, a number of changes occur. These include hormonal changes. The value of the hormone relaxin increases several times. This results in relaxation, relaxation of tendons, ligaments, soft tissues.

It also affects the whites of the eyes, which can be a sign of impaired vision. However, it may not affect every pregnant woman. In addition, it is possible that the quality of tears changes and their production decreases.

Thus, visual impairment is a symptom that should not be underestimated. Especially if the visual impairment has come on suddenly or is persistent. The affected person should see an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for an eye examination, such as a background eye examination.

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