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Teenage-Onset Visual Blurriness: A Guide For Patients And Their Parents

When you're only a teenager and your vision starts to become blurry, it's normal to be a bit alarmed. You may not want to wear glasses or have to deal with the hassle of contacts -- and of course, there's also the worry that something more sinister is going on. However, visual blurriness that begins during the teen years is not uncommon, and it's not usually caused by anything too serious. Here's a look at the most likely culprits and how to handle them.


Myopia is a fancy term for "unclear vision." This is the nearsightedness and farsightedness that causes many people to need eyeglasses or contacts for visual correction. While it usually presents before the teen years, it's far from abnormal to have the visual loss appear when you're 13 - 18. The blurriness is caused by the shape of your cornea; it's shaped in a way that causes light to enter your eye at the wrong angle, so you don't see clearly. The shape of your cornea can change as you grow, which may be why your visual insufficiency did not show up until recently. You may have hit a growth spurt during which the shape of your eyes changed. Luckily, you'll just need a pair of glasses or contacts to clear up your vision.


There is a chance that a slightly more serious condition, known as keratoconus, is to blame for your vision loss. This is a condition in which the cornea slowly starts to take on more of a cone shape rather than a smooth, curved shape. It often occurs in concert with an autoimmune condition, so if you've been noticing other symptoms like a dry mouth, frequent illness, or tiredness, they may all be related to the same problem.

If you think you may have keratoconus, make sure you see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Usually, keeping the autoimmune condition under control will keep the eye-related symptoms from worsening. Your vision can be corrected with glasses, though you may still have a bit of blurriness at night. Years down the road, you may need surgery to reshape your corneas.


Another possibility is that you've just been spending too much time staring at screens lately. This can lead to tiredness in the muscles that move your eyes and control the amount of light that enters them. As a result, your vision seems blurry. Take a break from staring at screens. Turn the brightness down on your phone and computer, and try to avoid excess phone use as much as possible. If this does not alleviate your symptoms, it's time to see your eye doctor.