Causes of Distorted Vision

What’s the difference between blurry and distorted vision? Here are some causes.

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Distorted vision is not the same as blurry vision. Visual distortion causes the straight edges of things and straight lines on paper to appear wavy and it causes objects to appear bent or misshapen.

Visual distortion can be caused by eye diseases, injury to the eye, eye infection, or inflammation. It could be caused by abnormal blood vessels that are leaking under the retina and affecting the macula—the part of the retina at the back of the eye that has a very high concentration of photoreceptor cells and that is responsible for our central vision.

In diabetics, increased blood sugar can cause the lenses of the eyes to swell with fluid and cause visual distortion. In people with age-related macular degeneration, it could signal that dry macular degeneration has become “wet” macular degeneration.

Because it could signal serious eye conditions, always see an eye care professional when you experience visual distortions. 

Common Diagnostic Exams

The exact cause of distorted vision must be diagnosed so the proper treatment can be started. A dilated eye exam along with specialized medical imaging techniques are used to diagnose the cause of visual distortion.

Dilated eye exam. Dilating the pupil allows the doctor to closely examine the condition of the macula and detect the presence of blood vessel leakage or cysts.

Optical coherence tomography. This type of imaging captures detailed microscopic views of the cell layers inside the retina. It detects the thickness of the retina, making it useful in determining the amount of swelling in the macula.

Fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a special dye is injected into your arm and a camera takes photos of the retina as the dye travels through the blood vessels. This test helps your ophthalmologist identify the leaking blood vessels and the amount of damage they have done to the macula.

Monitoring Your Vision at Home

The Amsler Grid. The Amsler Grid is a good way to test the functioning of your macula by detecting visual distortions. If you have a pre-existing condition that can affect your vision, using an Amsler Grid daily can help you detect the first signs of visual distortion that signal eye involvement. 

AMSLER GRID

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOME USE:  Wear glasses if you need them and look at the Amsler Grid from about 14 inches away. Test both eyes, one at a time, to see if any parts of the grid look distorted, missing, or dark. Mark the areas of the chart that you’re not seeing properly and bring it with you to your eye exam.

Treatments

There is no single treatment for the various causes of distortion. The exact cause will dictate possible therapeutic options.

If you are experiencing distortion, especially if it of recent onset, please contact your eye doctor.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us (877) 245.2020.

Nader Moinfar, M.D., M.P.H.
Retina Specialist
Orlando, FL

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