Ask the Optician

Suddenly eyes take a long time to focus in the distance


I spend a lot of time on my pc but always with good light. A couple of days ago I noticed that my eyes took a long time to focus and when I look at things at long range it all merges into one, I can see the outline of leafs and stuff but not the detail. Also, when I drive along in the car I can't see number plates or wording on signs perfectly focused. All I see is the outline of the word and guess it. My eyes are dry and hurt whenever I look at things in a distance. When I look at things it focuses perfectly for a second then unfocuses quickly and I can't get it to refocus unless I close my eyes and then open them again and it does it all over again. I have dry eyes which water a lot of the time making it much worse. I came back from holiday a week ago and this has only happened in a week of using a pc which is unusual as I spend a while on it a lot of the time before but nothing happened. It came on so suddenly so I don't know what it could be. I had something very similar but with my ears and it went off with some ear drops so it might be the same with this. I want to be a pilot but since I can't focus in certain patches at certain distances I don't think glasses will fully fix it. I am going for an eye test but I want to know what I will expect.

Answer Written answer:

Your symptoms do suggest a refractive error that may well need correcting with glasses, but it is unusual for you to suddenly have the problem. Although it is worse when you have been on the computer this will not be the cause. With your eyes being dry you could also have a problem on the cornea with the surface becoming superficially damaged and  also causing the reduced vision. You should certainly have an eye test, but in the meantime try using some lubricating eyes drops that you can buy over the counter at the pharmacy or opticians. Use them frequently and see if this helps the problem. 

We recommend you seek professional advice if you are concerned about your eye health:

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Optician's Biography

Simon Kay BSc(Hons) MCOptom has been a qualified Optometrist for over 35 years, and has a vast experience of almost all aspects of optometry. He joined Specsavers Opticians in 1993 first in Liverpool and for 15 years as a director of Lancaster and Morecambe. He served on many panels and committees whilst a director, including those responsible for IT design and professional advancement. He was regional chairman of the North West directors of Specsavers for over 12 years and as such was involved in almost all aspects of optometry on a business and professional level. He has been involved on the Local Optical Committee for many years and is currently Vice Chairman in his area.
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