Your symptoms

Better understand the eye symptoms you are experiencing.

Our eyes have various ways of signalling to us whenever something is not quite right. Correctly understanding and interpreting those symptoms can prevent a minor issue from becoming a major health issue. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with eye problems.

Reduced vision/ vision loss

Around 75% of people worldwide use some sort of vision correction, whether that’s glasses or contact lenses. So, reduced vision – or vision loss – affects a lot of people. Vision loss means losing your ability to see well and it can happen gradually, particularly as we get older, or suddenly. If you experience vision loss, you might find that you have trouble with normal activities such as reading books or text messages, watching television, signing your name, or reading road signs when you’re driving. You might also have trouble recognising people, or you may notice that you squint a lot in order to see things clearly.

In many cases, vision loss can be rectified by a trip to your local optician. Many types of visual impairment are preventable with early diagnosis and quick treatment.

There are many possible causes of partial or complete vision loss, including medical conditions, injuries, migraine, and ageing. Macular degeneration is a common and often treatable condition which can affect vision in older people. If you notice that your vision is deteriorating, you should book an appointment to get it checked out. It could be nothing to worry about, but it’s best to get a professional opinion.

Blurred vision

In most cases, blurred vision – a loss of sharpness which causes objects to appear hazy or out of focus – is caused by near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, a common imperfection in the curvature of the eyeball.

Blurred vision can mean everyday tasks and activities – like reading, watching television, DIY and gardening – are harder to do or less enjoyable.

In some cases blurred vision can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as cataracts or a problem with your retinas like retinal bleeding or macular hole. That’s why it’s important to get blurred vision checked, even if it comes and goes. You can find out more about the treatments available for these conditions on our cataracts page and retinal conditions page.

Foggy vision

Foggy or cloudy vision is when objects appear clouded or ‘milky’, like you’re constantly looking through frosted glass. This can make it difficult to read and enjoy hobbies such as painting or needlework. Dry eye is a common cause of foggy vision. Applying prescription-free artificial eye tears would help in those cases, otherwise cataract or other causes should be considered by a physician.

Most cataracts develop slowly, becoming steadily worse over time. This can affect your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, make you feel nervous about going out or driving, and even harm your confidence. For most people, cataract surgery is an extremely effective way to restore vision and improve quality of life. We use only the highest quality personalised premium lens implants in our cataract surgery, so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands.

Wavy or distorted lines

You may see what should be straight lines as wavy or bent, such as a visual bend in a door frame, lines of text on a page or lines on the road when you’re driving.

Common causes of wavy vision are macular degeneration and macular pucker. However, wavy lines can also be a symptom of a condition called macula oedema. This is when the central part of the retina swells up, causing distorted vision which makes it difficult to see whilst reading or driving. Common causes for macular oedema are diabetes or problems with blood vessels in the eye.

These conditions need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible so that they don’t lead to permanent vision loss. You can read more about these conditions and how they are treated on our retinal conditions page.

Wavy lines can also occur after eye surgery. You might find that straight lines appear distorted and that your vision becomes more blurry, especially when driving or reading.


Glare is often described as a blinding sensation from stray-light especially when driving in rain and under low-light conditions. If you suffer from light sensitivity or glare, discomfort caused by bright lights can be a symptom of cataracts.

It’s important to have your eyes checked by a specialist so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Then you can start treatment to prevent vision loss or halt further deterioration.

Reduced colour contrast/seeing dull colours

Colourblindedness or ‘colour vision deficiency’ means you find it difficult to identify and distinguish between certain colours.

Colour vision deficiency is sometimes inherited from your parents and is present from birth, although in some cases it can develop later in life.

Genetic colour blindness is a relatively common condition affecting 1 in every 12 men and 1 in every 200 women. Usually, people with colour vision deficiency have difficulty distinguishing between shades of red, yellow and green, especially if these colours appear together in a pattern. This is known as “red-green” colour vision deficiency.

In contrast to complete colour blindness, if colours appear to be ‘washed out’ or clouded, often with a yellow or brown tinge, this may be a sign that you have cataracts. Cataracts usually develop slowly over many years, so you may not notice the symptoms at first. Fortunately, cataract surgery can restore your colour vision.

Read our cataracts page for more information on the treatments available.


Floaters are small, dark or translucent dots or squiggly lines which ‘float’ across your field of vision. They’re often most noticeable when you look at a bright plain background, like a white wall, or the sky. In the initial stage, floaters won’t significantly affect your ability to perform normal activities like reading, driving or watching television. However, in some cases, thick floaters can quickly become very disturbing and even distracting. Luckily, a surgical removal of disturbing floaters is possible and is being successfully performed routinely in Oxford Medical Group clinic.

If you notice an increase in the number of floaters you’re seeing, if they begin to affect your sight, or if they appear with flashes of light, then it could be an indication of something more serious so it’s important to get them checked out.

Sometimes floaters can be caused by a condition called retinal detachment, which can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. You can find out more about the treatment options available on our retinal conditions page.

Flashing lights/ flashes

If you notice flashing lights, like streaks of bright white light flickering across your vision, if you notice an increase in the number of flashes, if they become brighter or more intense, if the flashes are accompanied by ‘floaters’ – small dark or translucent dots or squiggly lines which ‘float’ across your vision, or if they start to affect your sight, then it may be an indication of something serious, so it’s important to get your eyes checked by our specialist.

In most cases, flashes are caused by posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), a harmless process in which the gel inside your eyes detaches from the inner lining of the eye, the retina. But flashing lights in your vision can also be a symptom of retinal detachment, which is a serious condition.

You can find out more about the services we offer on our retinal conditions page.

Bump on eyelid

There are many different types of lumps and bumps which can form on the eyelid, and although they may look unpleasant, a quick and safe treatment for most cases exists.

Most bumps on the eyelid are styes. A stye is a red, swollen bump that looks like a pimple and is often extremely tender to the touch. They usually form where the eyelash meets the eyelid.

Another common type of lump on the eyelid is a chalazion. Also known as a meibomian cyst, a chalazion is similar to a stye, but is caused by a blockage in an oil-producing gland in the eyelid. Chalazions usually form on the inside of the eyelid or on the outside of the upper eyelid.

If a stye or chalazion doesn’t go away on its own, is particularly large or painful, or causes vision problems, then you will need treatment from a qualified ophthalmologist. We can provide you with expert medical advice about the best course of treatment for your condition, ranging from medication to surgery.

Yellow bump on eye

A yellowish bump, which is typically located on the whitish inner side of the eye, near the nose, is often a fairly common, non-cancerous growth called a pinguecula or a pterygia. They are usually caused by eye irritation (for example Dry Eye Syndrome), or exposure to the sun and other irritants such as dust and wind.

While pterygia (also known as surfers’ eye) and pingueculae may look unpleasant and sometimes feel uncomfortable, they are usually not sight threatening and are easily treated with medication or surgery. However, a large pterygia which covers the pupil may affect your vision, so it’s important to see an experienced specialist.

To find out more about the treatment options available to you, visit our other eye conditions page.

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