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What’s the Difference Between Cloudy Vision & Blurry Vision?

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A senior woman squinting her eyes to see more clearly while holding a phone in her left hand.

Good vision can greatly benefit our daily lives, allowing us to see the world around us. However, many people experience visual disturbances that can affect their ability to see clearly. 

Two common vision issues are cloudy vision and blurry vision. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two distinct visual experiences. Simply put: cloudy vision is when your vision appears hazy or foggy, whereas blurry vision is when your vision appears out of focus. 

Both issues can indicate an underlying vision problem, and it is important to consult with your eye doctor if you are experiencing either cloudy vision or blurry vision. 

What Is Cloudy Vision? 

Cloudy vision is a condition where your eyesight appears hazy or foggy, as if you’re looking through a dirty lens. This phenomenon can affect one or both eyes and may be temporary or persistent. Cloudy vision can also cause objects to appear blurry or out of focus, making it difficult to see fine details. 

Causes of Cloudy Vision

Cloudy vision may be a symptom of a range of underlying vision problems. Some common causes of cloudy vision can include:  


One of the most common causes of cloudy vision is cataracts. Cataracts occur when the natural lens inside your eye becomes clouded, usually due to aging or other factors such as injuries, certain medications, or underlying medical conditions. Cataracts can develop slowly over time, gradually causing vision to become increasingly cloudy. 

Eye Infections

Various eye infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), keratitis (corneal inflammation), or uveitis (inflammation of the uvea or middle layer of your eye), can cause cloudy vision. These infections may be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal sources and can cause redness, discharge, and pain. 

Corneal Edema

When your cornea, the clear front surface of your eye, retains fluid and swells, it can lead to a condition called corneal edema. This swelling can cause your vision to become cloudy. Factors like corneal trauma or certain eye surgeries can cause corneal edema. 

What Is Blurry Vision? 

Blurry vision refers to a visual impairment where objects appear out of focus, making them indistinct or fuzzy. Unlike cloudy vision, which is characterized by general haziness, blurry vision can manifest in different ways, such as difficulty reading small print, seeing distant objects clearly, or experiencing overall visual distortion. 

Causes of Blurry Vision

Blurry vision may indicate a wide range of vision problems, not just what we’ve listed. It’s important to consult with your eye care provider to receive a proper evaluation and diagnosis if you’re experiencing blurry vision. 

Some of the most common causes of blurry vision include: 

Refractive Errors

Blurry vision is often the result of a refractive error, which affects how light is focused by your eye. Common refractive errors include: 

  • Myopia (nearsightedness): Near objects, such as books or computer screens, appear clearly, while distant objects, such as road signs or whiteboards, appear blurry. 
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness): Near objects appear blurry, while distant objects appear clear.
  • Astigmatism: An irregularly shaped cornea causes blurry vision. Astigmatism commonly occurs with other vision problems, such as myopia or hyperopia. 
  • Presbyopia: Near objects gradually become harder to see clearly. Presbyopia is very common in adults over the age of 40. 

These conditions occur when the shape of your eye or its lens prevents light from properly focusing on the retina, leading to blurry vision at various distances. 

Dry Eyes

Insufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of your eyes can lead to dry eyes. Dry eyes can cause blurry vision, as well as discomfort and redness. Factors such as aging, environmental conditions, medication side effects, and certain medical conditions can contribute to dry eyes. 

Eye Strain

Extended periods of intense visual concentration, such as prolonged computer use or reading, can cause eye strain and blurry vision. This condition, known as computer vision syndrome, is characterized by symptoms like eye fatigue, dryness, headaches, and difficulty focusing. 

Eye Conditions

Various eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, can also cause blurry vision. These conditions affect the structures of the eye, including the retina and macula, leading to a loss of visual acuity and clarity.

Differentiating Between Cloudy Vision & Blurry Vision

While cloudy vision and blurry vision do share some similarities, they can be distinguished by their distinct characteristics:

  • Appearance: Cloudy vision is often described as seeing through a veil or fog, while blurry vision is characterized by a lack of sharpness or clarity. Cloudy vision may make objects appear hazy or indistinct, whereas blurry vision results in objects being out of focus or blurred.
  • Underlying cause: Cloudy vision is commonly associated with conditions that affect the transparency of the eye’s lens, such as cataracts or corneal edema. Blurry vision, on the other hand, is frequently caused by refractive errors or other underlying eye conditions that affect the eye’s ability to focus light properly.
  • Range of visual impairment: Cloudy vision tends to have a broader impact on vision, affecting the overall clarity and sharpness of objects. Blurry vision, however, can vary in intensity and may only affect specific distances or tasks, such as reading or seeing objects in the distance.
  • Associated symptoms: Cloudy vision may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as glare sensitivity or difficulty seeing in bright light. Blurry vision, depending on its cause, can be associated with symptoms like eye strain, headaches, or difficulties with depth perception.
A female optometrist looking into a medical device to perform an eye exam on a senior man

Restoring Clear Vision

Regardless of if you are experiencing cloudy vision or blurry vision, a comprehensive eye exam will likely be necessary to properly diagnose the underlying cause and determine a treatment plan to restore clear vision. 

Our team at Seal Beach Eyes is here to provide you with the eye care you need to maintain clear and healthy vision. Contact our team to book an appointment.

Written by Total Vision

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