DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Blurred Vision

I just came up from a dive and noticed that my vision is now blurry. What conditions could cause this symptom?

Possible causes of blurred vision after diving include:

  1. Contact lenses which become tightly adherent to the eye during a dive. Try using lubricant eye drops to relieve this.
  2. Displaced contact lens.
  3. Corneal irritation from mask anti-fog solutions.
  4. Ultraviolet or "sunburn" damage to the cornea.
  5. Corneal irritation resulting from bubbles under hard or rigid gas-permeable contact lenses.
  6. Use of transdermal scopolamine to prevent motion sickness.
  7. Decompression sickness
  8. Arterial gas embolism

If you are a contact lens wearer, I would first ensure that the lens is still in place and then instill some lubricant eye drops. If this is successful in restoring your vision to normal, then it is not necessary to seek medical attention. If you are not a contact lens wearer or these actions are unsuccessful, then you should have your symptoms evaluated by a physician knowledgeable about diving injuries. For a list of dive physicians in your area, call DAN.

For more information on vision issues, see the complete article by Frank K. Butler Jr., Captain, Medical Corps, United States Navy on High-Pressure Ophthalmology from Alert Diver online in the Medical Articles section.