While it's normal for your vision to change slightly as you get older, suddenly worsening eyesight often points to a serious issue. Whether it's blurriness that's cropped up overnight or the sudden appearance of floaters (those specks or particles that swirl in your eyes), vision changes are not something you should take lightly. And it should prompt you to get them checked out, ASAP.
Not only is having your vision getting worse quickly a signal that something might be wrong with your peepers, but it can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. So if your eyes are bothering you, or you notice any changes, definitely make an appointment with your eye doctor to figure out what's up.
And, while you're at it, make it a habit to get an eye exam frequently — whether you're experiencing symptoms or not. "Make sure to get your eyes checked every two years," Dr. Scott Schreiber, MS, CNS, a board-certified rehabilitation specialist, tells Bustle. "The earlier you check, the better chance [you have] of fighting off diseases."
Because, as is true for most health issues, the earlier your doctor can catch a problem, the healthier your eyes will be. Read on below for signs your symptoms may be a sign of a serious eye issue, according to experts.
1. You See A Gray Shadow
If you notice a gray shadow in your eye, don't wait around for it to go away. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a shadow or dark curtain that blocks part of your vision could be a sign of a detached retina — the area in the back of your eye that’s connected to your brain. If it’s not treated quickly it can lead to blindness, so get thyself to a doctor ASAP.
2. Your Face Feels Tingly
If you experience vision changes as well as a tingling in your face, it is most definitely an emergency. As Schreiber says, these are two signs of a stroke, which is clearly a reason to seek immediate medical help.
3. You See Black Spots In Your Vision
Black spots in your vision, as well as blurriness, may be a sign of an eye condition known as macular degeneration. So these are two symptoms you don't want to keep to yourself. "A diagnosis of macular degeneration early on can help patients prevent the advancement of the disease," Dr. Jean Keamy, board-certified ophthalmologist, tells Bustle. "Treatment options for macular degeneration include vitamin therapy, lifestyle changes, and sometimes injections into the eye."
4. You Lose Vision In One Eye
I'd hope if you lost vision in one eye you'd go immediately to the ER. But really, it's surprising how often people don't notice or think it's not a big deal. As Schreiber says, "Losing half or part of vision in one eye can be a sign of a brain tumor or mass in the brain." And that's obviously something that needs to be treated right away.
5. You Suddenly Have A Lot Of Floaters
While a few floaters in your field of vision is usually OK, it's not so normal to have a sudden onslaught of tiny particles swirling across your eye. This can be another sign of a retinal tear or retinal detachment. If you get yourself treated quickly, it can be fixed via surgery.
6. You See Halos Around Lights
Have you noticed halos or circles when you look at lights at night? If so, it could be a sign of an eye disease called glaucoma — a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve, and that gets worse over time. Usually it has to do with the pressure in your eye, which can be alleviated (and controlled) with eye drops or surgery.
7. You Have A Sensitivity To Light
It’s natural for your vision to get cloudier as you age. This is what's known as a cataract, and it can cause a sensitivity to light along with clouded or blurred vision, and a need to frequently change your eyeglasses prescription. Cataracts won't go away on their own, so make sure you tell your eye doctor if you notice any of these signs.
8. You Can't See Well At Night
Not being able to see well at night might be a sign of a serious issue, Keamy tells me. While it generally affects older people, it is another symptom of cataracts worth watching out for. (No pun intended.)
9. You Have Pain In Your Eyes
Any type of eye pain shouldn't go on ignored, especially since it can be a sign of underlying issues. As Schreiber tells me, one cause could be a condition known as optic neuritis. This is the inflammation of your optic nerve and often occurs in people who have multiple sclerosis. While not the most common cause of eye pain, it's still something you should discuss with your doctor.
10. You're Experiencing Symptoms Of Diabetes
Does diabetes run in your family? And if so, have you been tested for the disease? If not, it may explain your worsening vision. Research indicates that high blood sugar can cause your eye lens to swell, which can lead to blurry vision. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, blurry vision is definitely not something you should ignore.
11. You Have Persistent Discomfort
Eye pain for no reason is one thing. But if you experience eye discomfort after, say, drilling or hammering, it could be cause for concern. Get yourself checked by a doc to make sure there isn’t something in your eye that could lead to an infection, as that's definitely not something you want getting out of control.
While not all eye problems are a sign of something super serious, they still shouldn't be ignored. If you feel like your vision is worsening, or if you're experiencing any of the annoying symptoms above, be sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor.
Dr. Jean Keamy, board-certified ophthalmologist
Dr. Scott Schreiber, MS, CNS, a board-certified rehabilitation specialist