Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Does Stress Cause Macular Degeneration

Stress And Your Vision

The 5 Causes of Macular Degeneration | Dr. Alan Mendelsohn

There has been lots of research about how stress, depression, anxiety and other mental concerns impact health, but nota great deal about how such stressors impact vision. Nonetheless, many researchers agree that there is a strong connection between the two.No part of the body exists in isolation. The way that stress affects the immune system, the respiratory system and the presence of inflammation in the body are intertwined. All threeare associated not only with health problems, but with vision problems. Chronic stress both negatively effects good circulation and impacts our ability to digest food well. This reduces the ability of the body to deliver essential nutrients to the eyes and other organs.

What Is Macular Degeneration

The macula is the most important part of the retina and is responsible for our central reading and everyday vision. With macular degeneration, the affected cells in the macula eventually break down and lose the ability to function.

There is no cure for macular degeneration. However, comprehensive eye exams are extremely important in helping to detect this eye disease. Although it cannot be reversed, your eye doctor can help to prevent it from worsening or to slow down the progression of AMD.

Treatment For Dry Macular Degeneration

If you have dry macular degeneration, your doctor may also suggest that you work with a low-vision rehabilitation specialist. Your doctor may recommend that you take eye vitamins in the AREDS 2 formulation.

In addition, they may recommend surgery to help improve your vision. During the surgery, theyll implant a telescopic lens in your eye to replace the natural lens. This magnifies your field of vision. There is a set of very strict criteria for patients to qualify for such surgery.

It isnt known why some people develop macular degeneration, while others dont. However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing the disease.

These risk factors include:

Its important to have annual eye exams even if your vision appears normal. You should tell your doctor about any vision changes you experience, too.

Your doctor can conduct a variety of tests to diagnose macular degeneration.

For example, they can use special eye drops to dilate your eyes and then check the back of your eyes for signs of fluid, blood, or yellow deposits.

Other tests include the following:

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Can Stress Cause Vision Problems

People often say that stress physically manifests itselfand research actually backs this up. Consistent and highly prevalent stressors often lead to affiliated health issues, and studies have actually found that stress can cause vision problems and can lead to vision loss. The following are scientific links between stress and vision, and the connection to overall health:

Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance

What Exactly Is Macular Degeneration? And What Does It Look Like In The ...

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 Intraocular Pressure

The main cause and the only currently known modifiable risk factor for glaucoma is elevated intraocular pressure . This reduces blood flow in the eye due to physical pressure on the choroidal vascular system. The standard of care is lowering IOP by topical drugs or performing surgery with the aim to relieve the physical pressure and thus normalize blood flow. Several publications indicate that mental stress is associated with IOP elevation which is confirmed by molecular studies . In patients who already have glaucoma, both acute and chronic stress raise IOP when lasting for longer duration, stress may raise IOP even in those not having glaucoma . But 3357% of all glaucoma cases have normal-tension glaucoma . This shows that besides the physical influence of IOP, there are other causes of glaucoma as well: vascular dysregulation and an imbalance of the brain and eye pressure are two possible mechanisms which are either directly or indirectly controlled by the brain.

Worldwide Research Activities On Stress And Ophthalmology

The above case report demonstrates that stress can lead to a dramatic, psychosomatic reaction in the visual system while reduction in stress and enhanced blood flow can notably improve the condition. There are, however, many similar stories of vision recovery and most clinicians are aware of visual field fluctuations. Rozanski et al. proposed that visual field performance is not only a function of the actual vision loss itself but is highly variable due to anxiety and functional losses of vision. They presented a conceptual framework for the development of coping strategies and mindfulness-based interventions to reduce stress associated with negative thoughts and worries . Though there are unexplained cases of vision loss and cases of unexpected recovery , yet the literature is surprisingly silent as to how the mosaic of stress, vision loss, vision recovery, and restoration are connected. It should not escape our notice that the term unexplained could have two meanings: no pathology found or pathological changes existed, but they could not explain the visual field.

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Study Shows How Stress Affects Macular Degeneration

Stress is one of the top major causes of illness in America, yet it goes unnoticed by many people. Avoiding high pressure situations and held in feelings could manifest into stress-related symptoms putting your health at risk on many levels, including your sight.

A new study shows how stress may affect your vision, citing age-related macular degeneration as one of the possible results. It may be a good idea to take a step back to assess whether you are harboring built up stress so you can reduce the potential for vision loss and other health challenges.

Stress Snapshot

According to the American Psychological Associations Stress in America survey,

The percentage of Americans who reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress rose from 71 percent in August 2016 to 80 percent in January 2017. This includes physical and emotional symptoms such as headache , feeling overwhelmed , feeling nervous or anxious , or feeling depressed or sad .

Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APAs executive director for professional practice comments,

We know that chronic stress can take a toll on a persons health. It can make existing health problems worse, and even cause disease, either because of changes in the body or bad habits people develop to cope with stress. The bottom line is that stress can lead to real physical and emotional health consequences,

The Stress Scale

Reduce Stress, Reduce Inflammation

Triggers and Fixes

  • Overwhelming responsibilities

Types Of Macular Degeneration And Amd Risk Factors

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

There are two types of macular degeneration.

  • Dry AMD: This is the most common version of AMD, affecting 80 percent of people ages 50 and older who develop macular degeneration. Dry AMD may develop in one eye first, but the condition will eventually impact both eyes. Drusen, yellow deposits that build up under the retina, accumulate in people who have dry macular degeneration. While they are not considered the cause, they are closely associated with the condition. Symptoms of dry AMD include:
  • Visual distortions, like straight lines appearing bent.
  • Reduced central vision.
  • Blurry spot formation in the center of your vision, often in a well-defined area.
  • General haziness in your vision overall.
  • Abrupt onset of these symptoms.
  • Neither type of macular degeneration has a specific cause, and they are both associated more with age-related conditions and genetic predisposition than any other specific cause. There are some risk factors that increase your chances of developing AMD, which you can control, including:

    • Eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol, and that have a high glycemic index, like processed meats, cheese, or starches.
    • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables, or otherwise experiencing vitamin deficiency.
    • Having a high body mass index at 30 or higher.
    • Having high blood pressure, which restricts oxygen to various parts of the body, including the retina.
    • Having a sedentary lifestyle.

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    Assessing The Impact Of Stress In Age

    Age-related macular degeneration , the leading cause of vision loss among older adults in the United States, is often associated with psychological stress. A simple stress rating scale is a valid and useful way to evaluate the connection between stress and progressive vision loss from AMD, according to a study in the March issue of Optometry and Vision Science, the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

    “Because AMD is an inflammatory disease, we are studying the link between inflammation, stress, and AMD treatment outcomes,” reported Bradley E. Dougherty, OD, PhD, of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. “In the end, we hope to better understand how general well-being influences disease outcomes.”

    Symptoms Of Macular Degeneration

    Macular degeneration is a progressive disease. This means that it will get worse over time.

    You may not notice vision problems in the early stages of the disease. Youre also less likely to notice vision changes when they affect both eyes at the same time.

    Signs and symptoms of dry macular degeneration:

    • a reduction in central vision
    • a distortion of straight lines in your field of vision
    • the need for brighter lighting
    • difficulty adapting to low lights
    • trouble recognizing faces

    Some symptoms of wet macular degeneration resemble those of dry macular degeneration, such as visual distortions and reduced central vision.

    Other symptoms of wet macular degeneration you may also experience:

    • a blurry spot in your field of vision
    • a dark spot in the center of your vision due to blood vessels bleeding or leaking fluid

    Theres currently no cure available for macular degeneration, but your doctor can recommend options to help slow the progression.

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    What Is Wet Or Exudative Macular Degeneration

    Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina. This blood vessel growth is called choroidal neovascularization because these vessels grow from the layer under the retina called the choroid. These new blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, blurring or distorting central vision. Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration may be faster and more noticeable than that from dry macular degeneration.

    Picture:4 Subretinal hemorrhage under the macula due to wet AMD

    The longer these abnormal vessels leak or grow, the more risk you have of losing more of your detailed vision. Also, if abnormal blood vessel growth happens in one eye, there is a risk that it will occur in the other eye. The earlier that wet macular degeneration is diagnosed and treated, the better chance you have of preserving some or much of your central vision. That is why it is so important that you and your ophthalmologist monitor your vision in each eye carefully.

    Dry macular degeneration signs and symptoms

    • Blurry distance and/or reading vision
    • Need for increasingly bright light to see up close
    • Colors appear less vivid or bright
    • Difficulty seeing when going from bright light to low light
    • Trouble or inability to recognize peoples faces
    • Blank or blurry spot in your central vision

    Wet macular degeneration signs and symptoms

    Wet macular degeneration symptoms usually appear and get worse fairly quickly.

    Smoking: A Controllable Risk Factor Associated With Macular Degeneration

    What Exactly Is Macular Degeneration? And What Does It Look Like In The ...

    Several medical studies have shown that smoking exacerbates your risk of eye disease, especially macular degeneration. People who smoke a pack a day or more reportedly double their risk of blindness when they reach elderly adulthood. The more frequently you smoke and the longer you smoke throughout your life, the higher your risk of macular degeneration.

    Smoking likely speeds up deterioration of the macula because chemicals in cigarettes reduce the number of protective nutrients delivered through the bloodstream to the eye and increase the number of damaging chemical compounds deposited in that area. Smoking also reduces oxygen flow to the eye by constricting blood vessels, similar to the effects of high blood pressure.

    The University of Manchester researchers found that smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to develop AMD. However, former smokers have only a slightly higher risk of developing AMD compared to those who never smoked, suggesting that the damaging effects of smoking on the eye can be reversed if you quit.

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    How Can I Relieve Stress

    Here are five ways you can relieve stress:

    Exercise regularly non-competitive aerobic exercise is a proven stress reliever. Strengthening with weights, yoga and tai-chi have been proven to release endorphins natural hormones that make yourself feel better.

    Stop using tobacco or nicotine products Nicotine is often mistaken for a stress reliever, especially by its most dedicated consumers. However, Nicotine increases more stress on the body by reducing blood flow and breathing.

    Meditation taking time to relax every day can reduce stress. Mediation could be perfect for helping your body relax and wind down each day. Whether you embrace long hours of meditation, or just a few minutes each day, the impact of it on decreasing stress has been well documented.

    Journaling can be a fun and reflective activity that helps you wind down and focus on yourself and your values. Journaling for just 30 minutes a day can allow you to reflect and focus on the one person that is important to you!

    Diet A healthy, balanced diet can be vital in helping your body reduce stress. This also means cutting out too much caffeine, alcohol and processed foods, which contribute to increased stress.

    If you are after a superfood in the morning to help relax and destress your body, a chia berry smoothie full of omega-3 and fibre can help your body relax! This is the recipe:1 banana1/2 cup frozen berry blend1 tbsp chia seeds1 cup almond milk

    How To Slow Age Related Macular Degeneration

    While we cannot prevent macular degeneration from occurring, it is possible to lower your risk of AMD and slow its progression.

    Recommendations to reduce your risk of macular degeneration:

    • Regular eye exams. It is important to have routine eye exams in order to identify early signs of AMD and other eye conditions.
    • Maintain a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients and vitamins that help to reduce your risk of macular degeneration. Eat healthy foods such as fruits, green vegetables, and fish.
    • Include fish and nuts in your diet. Fish and nuts that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help your vision and reduce your risk of AMD.
    • Stop smoking. Smoking doubles your risk of developing AMD and other health conditions.

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    Blood Flow Vascular Dysregulation And Stress Hormones

    Besides IOP, primary vascular dysregulation is particularly relevant for both, POAG pathogenesis and NTG . The connection between the ocular perfusion pressure and primary vascular dysregulation has been explicated in NTG by Flammer .

    Both POAG and NTG are caused, or accelerated, by stress hormones in the vascular system such as glucocorticoids, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and endothelin-1. They influence vascular tone, particularly in and round the optic nerve and thereby impair vascular autoregulation. Stress hormones all contribute to endothelial dysfunction possibly via downregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, eNOS inactivation, decreased nitric oxide actions, and increased NO degradation, together with vasoconstriction counteracting against NO-induced vasodilatation. NO is a known regulator of ocular blood flow and the reduction of NO metabolites is known to be associated with glaucoma . NO is involved in the control of basal blood flow in the choroid, optic nerve, and the retina via the maintenance of the autoregulation of ocular blood flow .

    Relationship Of Macular Degeneration To Cataract Surgery

    A new understanding of age-related macular degeneration | Joshua Chu-Tan | TEDxChristchurch

    So how can cataract surgery potentially cause macular degeneration?

    When the lens inside our eye gets cloudy and becomes a cataract, this lens / cataract is removed and replaced with an artificial lens through cataract surgery. This new lens is completely clear! This makes sense after-all, the goal of cataract surgery is to improve vision.

    Prior to cataract surgery, the cataract is cloudy. This cloudiness can actually serve a small purpose. It acts almost like built-in sunglasses. Cataracts are effective at filtering out light. This includes short-wavelength light such as blue light. Blue light can actually cause additional stress to our retina!

    When we replace the cataract with a clear lens, our retina will receive more light – including more blue light.

    Cataract surgery can also increase the amount of inflammation inside the eye. The lens inside our eye is actually foreign to our immune system. Normally, the lens inside our eye is sealed in its own compartment and nothing happens. Our immune system cant get to the lens unless there is some sort of trauma that causes a break in this capsule and exposes the lens to the rest the eye.

    But this capsule is intentionally opened during cataract surgery. While almost 100% of the lens / cataract is removed, there is still some microscopic remains of it which can cause a little more inflammation after cataract surgery . This inflammation can potentially travel to the back of the eye and affect the retina.

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