HOW STRESS AND ANXIETY CAN AFFECT YOUR VISION

Ahh, stress. We all have different thoughts that come to mind when we hear the word. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” For some people, this stress piles on in high-pressure situations. For others, stress is accumulated over a period of time. You may be aware of the negative effects emotional stress can have on your physical health. But, you probably haven’t given much thought to the effects of stress on your eyes.

HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT MY EYES?

Stress and anxiety share symptoms that are common to other conditions and illnesses. If you’re experiencing any of the following at a chronic rate, you should visit your optometrist to determine if they are the result of other conditions before assuming they’re from stress:

  • Eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Excessive eye floaters
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches

Stress causes your pupils to dilate as a result of the fight or flight system all people are wired with. Dilated pupils allow more light to enter your eyes in case you need to react quicker, potentially leading to light sensitivity and headaches. Stress can also cause you to tighten your facial muscles, constricting blood flow and causing blurry vision and more headaches.

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 you’re 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 (if your vision isn’t affected enough to impair this ability).
  • 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 you’re not sure are stress related or not? Contact Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 or request your appointment online. We can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City.

Posted December 31, 2015 by Silverstein Eye Centers