Halos and Glare

Many people experience halos and glare, and they are often not a cause for concern. However, if you frequently get them, you may want to speak to a specialist. Book an appointment with one of our consultant ophthalmologists (eye specialists) if you are worried about your symptoms.

What are halos and glare?

Halos and glare are common problems with how your eye perceives light. Halos are circles of light around light sources, such as headlights or streetlights. Glare is an uncomfortable, bright light that disrupts your vision and dazzles your eyes. Starbursts are fine lines of light radiating from a bright light source. You are more likely to experience halos, glare, and starbursts around lights at night or in poorly lit places.

 

Should I seek emergency care?

If you experience halos suddenly, you may have angle-closure glaucoma. Acute glaucoma is a medical emergency, and you must seek urgent treatment to avoid vision loss. You may also get headaches, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, or blurry vision.

Causes

Haloes, glare, and starbursts occur due to light scattering in your eye. This can be caused by changes in the cornea, lens, vitreous, or retina. Pupil size is also important: people with large pupils experience more haloes and glare than those with small pupils.

Various eye conditions can also cause these, including:

Other factors that can cause these visual disturbances include wearing the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses and certain medications. People with myopia (nearsightedness) can also get halos and glare in their vision.

If you have laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, or cataract surgery, you may experience halos and glare afterwards. These should be temporary side effects lasting between a few days to a couple of weeks. Read our blog, ‘Is laser vision correction surgery safe?’ to learn more about the side effects of laser eye surgery.

Diagnosis

If you often experience halos and glare, you should have an eye test to determine if an underlying condition is causing it. Regular eye tests can help you monitor the health of your eyes. If your optician identifies a problem with your eyes, they may refer you to an ophthalmologist like one of our specialists.

Our specialist will examine your eyes, assess your overall eye health, and ask about your medical history and any medications you may be taking. We will also conduct tests to evaluate your visual acuity (how clear your vision is), measure your refractive error, and perform a slit-lamp exam to look at the various structures of your eye.

Sometimes, you may need further diagnostic tests, such as corneal topography or wavefront analysis. Corneal topography can evaluate the shape and quality of your cornea. Wavefront analysis looks for problems in how light enters your eye. After your tests, we can discuss appropriate treatment options for you.

Treatment

Once we have discovered the cause of your symptoms, we can form a tailored treatment plan. Treatments include monitoring, medicated eye drops, glasses or contact lenses, and surgery.

We may monitor your condition over time to see if anything changes. We usually recommend this approach if your halos and glare are a side effect of a surgical procedure on your eyes. In the meantime, you may benefit from wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes and avoid direct sunlight.

Surgical procedures aim to address diagnosed conditions that cause halos and glare, for example, cataract surgery, corneal cross-linking for keratoconus, laser eye surgery, and dry eye treatments.

Preventing halos and glare

You can’t prevent every condition that causes these symptoms, but there are some lifestyle changes you can make to avoid them.

Protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation by wearing sunglasses and a hat when in the sun. You should also maintain a healthy weight, avoid drinking a lot of alcohol, and quit smoking. It is also crucial that you manage any underlying condition like diabetes.

Chlorine can also cause halos in the eye. Always make sure to protect your eyes when you’re swimming to prevent the chemical from affecting your eyes. Goggles can also protect you from bacteria that would otherwise cause an infection, like conjunctivitis in the eye.

In terms of diet, try eating foods rich in vitamins A and C, such as tomatoes, carrots, and leafy green vegetables, including spinach and kale. You can learn more about how your diet affects your eyes with our blog: Top 14 foods to eat for healthy eyesight.

You should also attend regular annual eye exams, especially after you reach 40, to detect any potential issues early on.

Book an appointment

Don’t let halos and glare affect your vision any longer. Our team of eye care specialists will thoroughly examine your eyes, diagnose the underlying cause, and provide personalised treatment options.

Whether it’s finding the right glasses, exploring surgical interventions, or implementing preventive measures, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and start your journey towards better vision.

FAQs

    If you frequently experience halos and glare, we recommend having a yearly eye exam. If you don’t get them often, you should have an eye exam every two years.

    Some people experience halos as a symptom of migraines and may need medication to prevent them. Speak to your doctor if you see halos at the same time as migraines.

    If you have open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension (high pressure in your eye), you may benefit from taking certain medications. Your doctor will advise you on the best one for you.

    Yes, some medications can cause halos around lights and glare. Beta-blockers, such as propranolol, are one example and can also cause blurred vision. Talk to your doctor about your current medication if you are concerned about the side effects. They may recommend changing to a different medication or altering your dose.

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