Fluctuating Vision – Causes and Concerns

Fluctuating Vision – Causes and Concerns

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

Fluctuating vision is a common concern for those with chronic eye diseases.  One day your vision may be sharper and clearer than normal and the next it’s blurred and the clarity seems to have disappeared.  “My vision fluctuates from day to day” or “ I notice differences from day to day and some days my eyes are dry, tired and blurry”  are common statements from those who have macular degeneration. The fluctuation can even be tied to the time of day – for some morning is when they experience the most loss of visual acuity and for others it’s at the end of the day.  “Fluctuating vision can be described as having good or bad vision days, or noticing the changes in quality of vision between the morning and the evening.  These experiences are not caused by the environment (good light vs poor light), but rather are physiological in nature,” explains Terri Cyr, OD  and author of Insight Into Low Vision.

What causes these fluctuations or temporary changes in vision?  There is normally more than one contributing factor but here are some of the more common ones:



Diabetes damages the lining of blood vessels and especially the susceptible tiny blood vessels of the eye which can lead to diabetic retinopathy.  Diabetics will notice a change in their vision when their blood sugar levels are not well controlled.


Dry Eye Syndrome

Just as macular degeneration becomes more common as one ages, so does dry eye syndrome.  Dry eye develops when a person isn’t able to produce enough nourishing tears to lubricate the front surface of the eye which is necessary for clear vision. Eyes will feel irritated and scratchy and one can experience blurred vision from chronic dry eye.


Deprivation of  Sleep

Our eyes need a break and the only time that can happen is when one sleeps. It’s important for our eyes to rejuvenate and at least 5 hours of sleep are needed for that to happen.  Sleep deprivation reduces tear secretion. “When you don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated, you might experience dryness, light sensitivity, itchiness, redness and sometimes even blurred vision,” report the eye doctors from Commonwealth Eye Surgery in Lexington, Kentucky.



The side effect of some medications is a reduced production of tears while other drug side effects may contribute to temporary blurred vision or permanent vision changes.  The Cleveland Clinic writes, “As you fill out a new prescription, you might not think of the impact it could have on your eyes. Yet some prescription drugs and even a few over-the-counter remedies can have serious visual side effects.”  Click on the link to  read the full article of “What to do When Medications Affect Your Vision.”


Other common causes of fluctuating vision can be allergies and migraines.  However not everyone who experiences a  temporary vision change can make a connection to what may be causing it.  “These fluctuations in vision are biologically related.  Some causes are understood by the medical community, others are not,”  states Terri Cyr, OD.


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN