can stress affect vision

Can Stress Affect Your Vision?

In a fast-paced, digital, and highly-connected modern world, it seems that almost everyone you ask is either recovering from a period of stress or in the midst of one.

We are all affected by stress in different ways: headaches, nervous stomachs, neck pain…you name it. But can stress affect our vision? It seems so.

Here are the facts and some tips to protect your peepers.

The mechanics of stress

We all go through periods of stress. Our bodies are adaptable and learn to deal with good and bad stress. It goes back to our hunter-gatherer days when we were faced with other predators. You might have heard of the “fight or flight” response. Our brain and body had to decide how we would approach a situation and what our best outcome for survival would be. Nowadays, it’s usually less life-threatening than being eaten by a tiger, but the physical response is similar.

When we are stressed, our body creates a surge of adrenaline and our pupils dilate. The idea behind this was to allow more light into our eyes so that we could properly scope out any threats. Our autonomic nervous system is responsible for our response to stress, so if we are stressed, our pupils dilate; when we’re relaxed or tired, they constrict. However, if dilated for too long (more chronic stress), your eyes can actually become sensitive to light, which can, in turn, lead to eye strain or even blurry vision.

Eye-related symptoms

Now that you know why your eyes react to stress, let’s discuss how. Here is a list of common symptoms you may experience due to stress:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye twitching, also known as a myokymia
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Excessively dry or wet eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye strain
  • Eye floaters

If you are going through a period of stress and experiencing any of these symptoms, pay attention to them. While it may be normal, you should always go see an eye doctor to check on the health of your eyes.

Stress, as we know, can become a vicious cycle. Sometimes, we become stressed about being stressed, and this cycle can affect our eyes as well. In fact, a Turkish study showed a strong correlation between Dry Eye Disease and stress, anxiety, and depression.

How to cope

While it can be frustrating to experience eye-related symptoms due to stress, the good news is, that there are ways to cope.

While many people correlate de-stressing with meditation, it’s not the only way to unplug.

If you do think daily meditation might be for you but are a bit skeptical, there’s an app for that. Otherwise, listening to some calming music in a dim room, focusing on your breath, and quietly letting your thoughts just float on by for a few minutes is an easy go-to technique.

Other helpful options could be writing in a journal, like a gratitude journal, exercising, taking a warm bath, eating, and sleeping well.

Of course, the best remedy is to cut back on what is stressing you out. However, we all know that’s not always possible. If you have a big project to deliver at work, you can’t just drop it. However, if certain social situations or relationships are causing undue stress, avoiding or cutting back on those could be helpful.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and while it can be difficult to deal with the physical consequences it can have on our bodies, it is usually temporary and manageable. Remember to listen to your body and if your eye symptoms are persistent or seem severe, go see your Optometrist.

If you have vision problems that are unrelated to stress, like nearsightedness or farsightedness and you’d like to get rid of your glasses or contacts, we’ll be happy to help. Come see us!

Call our Patient Care Lines: (+632) 7-368 5238 l (+63) 917 862 7454 l (+63) 921 217 0517 for inquiries, questions, and appointments or talk to our consultants via LiveChat here on our website.

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