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Causes of a Cloudy Film on the Eye

author image Kim Parr
Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist. She attended Western Kentucky University, then Southern College of Optometry, graduating cum laude in 1999. She completed a residency with the Indian Health Service before buying her own practice in 2002.
Causes of a Cloudy Film on the Eye
Doctor examining a patient's eye. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Having what appears to be a cloudy film on the eye can be a problem that affects daily tasks and decreases quality of vision. The human eye has many structures than can be affected by conditions that cause symptoms of cloudy vision. Those include the tear film layer over the surface of the eye, the cornea or clear part on the front of the eye, the conjunctiva and the lens within the eye.

Dry Eyes

Problems with the tear film layer, know as dry eye, can cause a cloudy film. Dry eyes can happen when tears evaporate too quickly, when the body does not produce enough tears or when the tears produced have an abnormal consistency. This is often caused by inflammation of glands along the eyelids due to bacteria or obstruction. Cloudy vision from dry eyes is usually variable throughout the day and seems to improve with blinking or use of artificial tears.

Swelling of the Cornea

The cornea is normally clear so that light can pass through to the tissue in the back of the eye called the retina. If the cornea becomes swollen, this can result in cloudy vision. A swollen cornea can be caused from wearing a tight or over-worn contact lens, eye infection, abrasions on the cornea or hereditary cornea diseases. Most of these conditions cause pain or discomfort and are associated with eye redness.


Cataracts are changes that happen in the lens of the eye. When a cataract develops, the normally clear lens becomes cloudy. Cataracts happen gradually with aging or more rapidly after eye injuries. People who take steroid medicines or have diabetes have an increased risk for cataracts. Cataracts usually make vision seem worse in poor lighting conditions and can produce symptoms of glare in addition to cloudy vision.


Conjunctivitis happens when the conjunctiva -- the layer of tissue over the white part of the eye -- becomes inflamed. Causes can be bacterial, viral or allergic. With conjunctivitis, the eye may produce discharge that can range in color from almost clear to yellow or green, depending on the cause. With conjunctivitis or any type of film over the eye, schedule a visit with an eye doctor if the problem does not resolve within a few days or causes pain or loss of vision.

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