How Do Stress And Anxiety Impact Vision Loss
Did you know that stress and anxiety could have a significant impact on your eye health? Research shows that persistent stress might even lead to vision loss. If you leave a busy life, reducing your stress levels will prevent this from happening. Here’s how stress and anxiety influence your vision, and what you can do about it.
Can Stress And Anxiety Affect Your Vision
Stress and anxiety can have several mental and physiological effects on the human body. It can be both consequence and cause of vision loss and your eyes are no exception to the physical impact of stress and anxiety.
Vision anxiety symptoms may affect one or both eyes, they may occur occasionally and be moderate or severe becoming more noticeable when you are fatigued.
Stress triggers the bodys fight or flight response causing the pupils to dilate and those with long-term stress or anxiety may also suffer from eye strain. When we are stressed or anxious, high levels of adrenaline in the body may cause pressure on the eyes.
Common stress related eye problems include sensitivity to light, blurry vision, tunnel vision, eye floaters and eye strain.
Stress and anxiety may also aggravate existing eye conditions like glaucoma and optic neuropathy leading to complete vision loss.
All of the above may affect your vision causing varying degrees of discomfort and increasing intraocular pressure in the eyes. Stress can cause the muscles in the eyes to become tense, constricting the blood vessels and leading to sore eyes and muscle spasms.
Although the effects of stress and anxiety on the eyes are usually short-term, they may have long-term effects if they occur regularly. A few de-stressing techniques could include exercise, meditation, healthy eating and staying well rested.
Psychological Treatments To Reduce Stress In Vision Loss
Considering the discussion above, relaxation, psychotherapy, or other stress reduction programs should be helpful in reducing the impact of low vision. There are several such reports in the literature. For example, relaxation and visual imagery techniques can reduce IOP , psychotherapy can be beneficial for glaucoma patients during surgical or drug therapy , and meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and coping strategies can help people reduce stress .
In fact, relaxation techniques and psychotherapy are the most promising methodologies with a potential to reduce the progression of vision loss or even improve vision recovery. Relaxation to counteract stress has always been part of human societies, ranging from hallucinogenic drugs to music and sports, and it is practiced in different schools of thought, religions, wellness programs, and psychology institutions. Furthermore, relaxation is part of traditional medicine and healing traditions and has recently become the focus of modern evidence-based medicine.
Despite this long tradition, relaxation techniques are somehow novel for the treatment of visual disorders.
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How Do You Prevent Stress From Affecting Your Vision
If you are suffering a panic attack and notice your eyes are affected, you can take a few steps to deal with the issue on the spot:
- If youre driving or operating machinery, stop immediately.
- Practice regulated breathing exercises to regain control. Breathing in and out through your nose will help calm your nervous system.
- Find a distraction, such as a song, a movie, or a friend to talk to.
- Perform a mild exercise such as walking or a light jog .
- Close your eyes for a minute or two while resting.
These techniques may help your vision return to normal after a few minutes. Unfortunately, these are only temporary forms of treatment that can be used after a panic attack. You should visit a medical professional to stay proactive in your fight against stress.
Do you experience any vision problems when you are in stressful situations? Are you concerned about vision problems that youre not sure are stress related or not? Contact Silverstein Eye Centers today at 358-3600 or request your appointment online. We can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City.
Eye Diseases Are Also Brain And Vascular Diseases In Disguise
Because the retina and eye are extensions of the brain , it may be conceivable that ophthalmologic diseases might actually also be brain diseases in disguise, both of which depend on the vascular system. For example, glaucoma is both an ocular and brain neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive damage of both the optic nerve head and different visual brain centers as well as those that control emotions . Since stress and emotional experiences affect the eye, brain, and vascular system by way of autonomic imbalance and/or stress hormone release thereby ensuing perfusion problems, and since neural circuits involved in vision and emotion have functional and physiological overlap, stress could have a direct impact on vision as well.
Diagram of stressors and their effects showing the vicious cycle of mental stress and vision loss and the cause-effect relationship of stress and vision loss. According to this concept, low vision is both cause and consequence of vision loss. Note: the disease is involving different levels of analysis, psychological, biological, and pathological
Stressors brains cognitive interpretationemotional responsestress-related biological responses retinal and optic nerve pathologyvisual field loss.
Stressors brains cognitive interpretationemotional responseautonomic imbalancerising intraocular pressure retinal and optic nerve pathologyvisual field loss.
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Stress And Vision Loss
The idea that mental distress is one of the main causes of vision loss dates back to ancient times. In a Sanskrit book entitled SUSRUTA SAMHITA, believed to be written as early as 1.300 BC , i.e., over 3000 years ago, a famous Indian surgeon named Susruta, practicing the ancient Indian traditional Ayurveda medicine, lists 18 different causes of vision loss . Among them, six causes or signs of bodily or emotional stress are listed: improper sleeping habits like day time sleeping, awakening at night, etc. continuous weeping excessive anger grief stress sufferingpain, physical, and mental exhaustion and suppression of tears .
In agreement with this ancient proposaland based on our clinical experience amalgamated with a thorough literature review pertinent to the recently described Flammer syndrome , we now wish to propose that psychological stress is not only a consequence or just a minor risk factor. Rather, it is one of the main causes of certain cases of vision loss, particularly certain forms of glaucoma and optic neuropathy. If this causality proposition could be substantiated with convincing and coherent arguments, then some disorders of the visual pathways might be considered to have psychosomatic components or may even represent a psychosomatic disorder. If confirmed, this new understanding could lead to better management and new treatment options.
Eye Conditions From Stress
Are you feeling stressed out? Most of us endure stress in our busy lives, and eye conditions from stress are common. Excessive stress can affect your overall health, including your eye health and vision. How? Here are three eye conditions related to stress:
Eye Strain and Dry Eye
Eye strain is a term used to describe many symptoms that can be brought on by stress or even just overstraining your eyes. Some of the symptoms include blurry vision, headaches, dizziness, and dry, itchy eyes. It can be brought about by any extended use of your eyes for an intense activity, such as working at a computer, playing video games, or driving for many hours. These activities can also cause you to blink less often, which causes dry eyes.
The Mayo Clinic states that eye strain and dry eye brought on by stress and fatigue may also cause blurry vision. The good news is that most symptoms are temporary, won’t cause permanent eye damage, and will go away if you rest your eyes.
Eyelid Twitching According to MedlinePlus, eyelid twitching is often brought about by stress. Some spasms last seconds while others can last hours or days. Twitching most often develops in the lower eyelid, but it can occur in both upper and lower lids. Some serious twitches that last longer than a few days or that cause the eyelid to close completely can have underlying neurological roots. Fortunately, most twitching caused by stress is harmless and won’t cause vision problems. Consult a doctor if twitching persists.
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Mental Stress And Personality
Psychology is the science of mind and behavior, including all aspects of conscious and unconscious experiences as well as thought . When a person suffers from prolonged psychological stress, this reduces QOL and is a burden to him/her and also to their social environment . People have different mechanisms for coping with stress, i.e., being able to react to stress in an adaptive manner. But if stress is too high or lasts too long, or if the person does not have sufficient resilience capacities or coping skills because of his/her personality disposition, mental fatigue, burnout, anxiety/fear, or depression may ensue. This can go hand-in-hand with organic/somatic problems like feeling non-organic pain or non-organic vision loss , especially if such persons have a predisposing genotype. There are many diseases in medicine that are characterized by both somatic and psychological aspects, and psychosomatic medicine is a well-established discipline. Its task is to help reducing the impact of psychological problems to improve patients well-being and providing coping resources for their physical diseases or disabilities . But because diseases of the visual system have traditionally been viewed as an exclusive affair of biology and physics , the interaction between ophthalmology and psychosomatic medicine is practically non-existent.
Will It Go Away
Floaters and flashes can be normal variations in vision. If your eye doctor has examined your eyes and ruled out causes like retinal tears or detachments, then you usually dont have to worry if you see them in the future as long as theyre not getting worse.
Sometimes flashes vary in their severity. You may notice them more for a certain time period, then they can appear to fade or just bother you less. Knowing that they arent cause for medical concern may help.
If you experience the following symptoms, see your doctor immediately:
- sudden increase in eye floaters
- sudden increase in eye flashes
- peripheral vision loss
- your vision feels like a dark curtain has been placed over the eye
- youve been hit in the eye and you start seeing light flashes
These symptoms can all indicate that you have a retinal detachment and need to seek emergency medical attention.
You should also see your doctor if your anxiety starts to affect your daily life. Examples of symptoms that warrant a trip to your doctors office include:
- You experience anxiety more days than you dont.
- Youve had panic attacks or seem to be having more panic attacks than usual.
- Your anxiety keeps you from performing your job or school duties.
- Your anxiety keeps you from doing things you used to love, including going out in public, engaging in hobbies, or seeing loved ones.
These symptoms may indicate an anxiety disorder. A doctor can help you find solutions to manage your anxiety.
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Can Stress Affect Vision
When we ask health professionals ask if stress can affect vision, the answer is a resounding yes. However, its not always the direct cause of visual problems, but sometimes acts as a coadjuvant factor in different health issues.
Emotional stress leads to direct effects on the eyes, which in principle arent so serious, such as eyelid twitching or tearing. It can also affect the vascular area, leading to blurred vision, low vision, or even transient loss of sight.
The stress hormone is cortisol and, therefore, a state of stress involves elevated levels of this substance. It causes imbalances in the autonomic or sympathetic nervous system and vascular alterations. These are factors that directly affect diseases such as glaucoma or optic neuropathy.
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What To Do When Stress Affects Your Eyes
Most stress-related eye problems are temporary and the best thing to do when you feel stressed is to relax. Try to get enough rest, have a healthy diet, and do stress relief exercises. But if you experience prolonged symptoms then it is time to consult an ophthalmologist.
It is perfectly fine to feel anxious or stressed in our demanding lifestyles. But it is your duty to never take your eyes for granted.
This post is not intended to be medical advice. Always rely on your medical practitioners in matters related to your health.
Contact New York Ophthalmology at or request a consultation to schedule an appointment at one of our 5 locations in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
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Can Glaucoma Be Caused By Stress
Glaucoma is a slow progressive disease of the eye in which the optic nerve is damaged. It is characterized by the rise in pressure of the fluid inside the eye. Old people are more affected by Glaucoma. It leads to poor night vision, glare and decreased contrast sensitivity. Its causes can be inherited or acquired. It can be easily detected during a regular non-invasive eye examination. If it is not treated well, it can cause a gradual loss of eyesight.
Painful Eyes Stress And Anxiety Producing Eye Pain
Often this can be part of an overall sense of tension. If your eyes are painful and you are stressed, accept that is just what you are experiencing for the moment.
You may also need to think about hydration especially if your eyes are dry and burn. Think about what you have had to drink for the last 24 hours. Alcohol and caffeine can further dehydrate you resulting in your experiencing dry eyes.
You may have a headache, however, if you have painful eyes, a headache, demonstrate slurred speech or are moving slower than normal, you may want to get checked for a TBI like a concussion.
Typically, you will know if you have hit your head, but when my husband was a kid, he used to fall out of his bunk bed and wake up on the floor, so you will want to make sure you havent inadvertently done something, of which you are unaware.
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Brain Circuits Implicated In The Stress Response
Besides the systemic stressors and homeostatic imbalances, the response to psychological or emotional stressors is key, but this requires appraisal and processing activities by higher brain regions.
While brain stem nuclei regulate the activation of SAM and the HPA with ascending projections, several top-down processes are involved in eliciting the stress response. These brain structures include limbic forebrain structures, including the amygdala, the hippocampus, as well as the prefrontal cortex . While hippocampus and PFC atrophy in conditions of chronic stress, the amygdala volume increases. It is involved in autonomic regulation and fear learning , and its volume enlargement is found in glaucoma patients . But how the brains visual and emotional system interacts in cases of low vision is a yet unexplored issue of ardent importance.
How Stress Can Be A Strain On Your Eyes
by Gwen Gottlieb | Feb 15, 2021
Stress is that one factor that has affected most of us in our busy lives, and health conditions from stress are common. However, did you know that stress can also affect your eyes? During those emotionally difficult times when life feels much too busy or demanding, your eyes can pay the price like the rest of your body does.
Learn what eye symptoms can result from too much stress and what to do about them.
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What Exactly Happens To Your Vision
Stress and anxiety can affect your eyes in various ways:You might see shadows, flashing lights, blurs, fogginess, or experience other visual irregularities like tunnel vision.You might experience vision problems in just one eye or both eyes.You might experience a sudden change in your vision or notice a gradual loss of vision over time.Your eyes might twitch or spasm.Many people experience these symptoms without ever seeing an optician. However, not addressing the issue could result in severe vision loss. This is why it’s important to see an expert.
Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance
Stress being one of the main causes of sympathetic nervous system activation is an axiomatic fundamental of medical science. The evolutionary function of stress is to prepare the body and mind for the fight flight response. Sympathetic activity prepares the body for it, whereas parasympathetic influences are predominant during relaxation states. The autonomic nervous system is also a factor keeping the blood flow in synch with metabolic demand of nerve cells. It controls autoregulation of the vasculature which is the intrinsic capacity to maintain constant flow despite changes in perfusion pressure. But if autoregulation fails in the ocular blood vessels, this can have a dramatic impact on ocular blood flow homeostasis thereby precipitating impairment. Hence, blood flow regulation may not match the metabolic demands of the retinal nerve cells which then fail to fire action potentials at the needed activity level or at the right point in time. It is to be noted that, similar to blood flow in the retina, blood flow in the brain is also autoregulated.
Na and Riccadonna showed that dysfunction of autonomic control is associated with NTG which they discovered by analyzing heart rate variability autonomic dysfunction may, in fact, induce chronic ischemia of the optic nerve. The study of heart rate variability under conditions of the cold provocation test confirmed the predominance of the sympathetic nervous system activity in NTG .
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Stress And Vision Loss In Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an appropriate example of how an eye disease can be influenced or caused by mental stress. The biological response to mental stress and the pathogenesis of glaucoma share numerous common features sufficient to justify the mental stress based etiology .2). The principle mechanisms are intraocular pressure elevation, vascular dysregulation, and an imbalance of autonomic nervous system regulation and immunological aspects .