Top 7 Signs You Might be Losing Your Vision

Eye pain? Blurry vision? Floaters and spots? These are just a few of the symptoms associated with vision loss. Learn to recognize the signs in this article.

By Ability Central

14 December, 2022

Black man sits at a laptop computer and rubs his eyes

Book pages are harder to read than they used to. Bright light hurts your eyes. You find yourself blinking or squinting more to see clearly. While these might seem like small issues at first, they may be signs you're losing your vision.

Vision loss can be frightening and isolating, but it can be slowed or -- in some cases -- reversed. More than 2 billion people globally have impairments with vision, according to the World Health Organization. Vision loss is commonly addressed with tools like glasses, contact lenses, or eye surgery. The best treatment for vision loss is treatment that starts as soon as possible. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms below, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP. 

In this article, we walk through 7 signs that your vision may be getting worse by answering the following:

  • Is eye pain a sign I'm losing my vision?
  • Are red eyes related to vision loss?
  • If I see flashing lights, am I losing my vision?
  • What are halos and how are they related to vision loss?
  • What happens when you lose peripheral vision?
  • What does it mean to be farsighted?
  • Why does it mean to be nearsighted?
  • When should I have my eyes checked?
  • Where can I get help for vision loss?


Is eye pain a sign I'm losing my vision?

Eyes are very sensitive. When you are experiencing pain, it could mean a variety of things but is definitely a trigger for getting medical help. Glaucoma is one possible source for eye pain that begins to get more and more common past the age of 85. Glaucoma can be treated. Glaucoma is caused by fluid build-up that puts pressure on the eye. This can damage the optic nerve. And while pain may indicate glaucoma, it is also possible to have gradual glaucoma progression that isn’t painful.


Are red eyes related to vision loss?

If both of your eyes are red, this is generally not as worrisome as when one eye is very red. If the eyes are both red, it could be that the cause is conjunctivitis (pink eye). Pink eye is quite common in schools and preschools, and it is highly contagious. It can be treated easily. If you suspect you or one of your family members has pink eye, it is good to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching the eye or rubbing the eye.

Red-eye is also a symptom of scleritis, an inflammation of the white of the eye. Scleritis can be painful, and leads to blurred vision plus increased sensitivity to light.


If I see flashing lights, am I losing my vision?

If you suddenly see flashing lights or small specks in your field of vision, or experience something off in your peripheral vision, it is possible your retina is injured or torn. The retina is a nerve in the back of the eye that signals the brain. One-time flashing light experiences are normal, but new symptoms or symptoms that show up more frequently are a good reason to see an eye doctor.


What are halos and how are they related to vision loss?

Halos are rainbow-like rings that appear around bright lights or brightly colored objects. They can make things seem blurry and are especially common at night, when there is stronger contrast between brightness and darkness. Some degree of halos are a normal part of vision, like the fuzziness we see around streetlights when it's raining. However, frequent or worsening halos can be an indicator of a more serious health condition, like progressing cataracts. 

Halos and poor night vision are also a possible side effect of eye surgery or stroke. Some lenses for corrective glasses may also create halos, but if your halos are getting worse or start to interfere with things like driving, be sure to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. 


What happens when you lose peripheral vision?

Peripheral vision refers to the things we see to the sides of what we're looking at. If you've seen something "out of the corner of your eye," that's peripheral vision. Loss of peripheral vision leads to things like tunnel vision, when vision is limited to a small space directly in front of you (like the light at the end of a tunnel). Symptoms of low peripheral vision include bumping into things, neck pain from turning your head more often, and difficulty reading or watching TV.

The opposite, retaining your peripheral vision but losing your central vision, may be caused by the progressive eye disease macular degeneration. Learn more in Macular Degeneration: Symptoms and Early Signs.


What does it mean to be farsighted?

Farsightedness occurs when you can see things far away, like road signs, but struggle to see things close, like pages of books, computer screens, food, or medicine ingredients. Farsightedness is commonly addressed with reading glasses. Even though you can purchase reading glasses over the counter, it might still be a good idea to have an eye exam if you are experiencing new or abrupt changes in vision. 


Why does it mean to be nearsighted?

Nearsightedness or myopia refers to not being able to see things in the distance, like signs along the freeway. This can be dangerous if not treated, because you may not see things like cars coming your way. Glasses, contact lenses and eye surgery are all possible to correct nearsightedness. Contact lenses may not be the best prescription if you have trouble with peripheral vision. Surgery may have side effects, like halos and sensitivity to light.


When should I have my eyes checked?

It is good to have your eyes checked every few years or whenever you start perceiving loss of vision. For people over age 65, annual eye checkups are recommended. Eyeglass prescriptions expire over time, so even younger people should have their eyesight checked every few years.


Where can I get help for vision loss?

Vision loss can be a frightening and confusing experience. Regular checkups with your primary care physician or family doctor can help identify some eye conditions and diseases, but your best bet for early detection is regular exams from an optometrist. 

If you're not sure where to start, use the Ability Central Service Locator tool to browse our nationwide database of nonprofits. Organizations devoted to vision loss and eye care can help connect you to resources, testing, and treatment near you. 

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Article Type:
Disability Type:
Low Vision