Share with your friends

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.


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.


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.

Share with your friends



  1. Laura says:

    Can severe anxiety cause you to notice eye floaters that you already had? I didn’t start noticing them until my anxiety went through the roof.

  2. Krystalrosado says:

    My vision has gotten to the point where I feel like I need glasses , can anxiety really affect me thismuch

  3. Danyal says:

    I have had health axiety for about two months and developed eye floaters and photopsia in one eye only. I already went to my eye doctor he said there is nothing serious. My question is, do you have any data about people with the same causes who got better? Or do I need live with that now?

    • Hi Danyal,

      Often eye floaters will calm down over time, but it does take a while and everyone is different. If you’ve been to an ophthalmologist and they’ve told you not to worry, then it’s likely nothing serious.

    • Leigh says:

      OMG! Same experience. I had a trauma last october and had severe anxiety for 2 months straight and floaters started to appear. I dont know if I already had them before my anxietu and panic attack but i noticed them after my trauma.

    • CM says:

      Hey, I have noticed the exact same thing and have had pretty intense health anxiety for a few months. I have been to optometrist and doctor and so far everything all clear.

      Did your symptoms alleviate? And did anything help? The most annoying thing is a little spot/flash/flicker that appears in only my right eye. It’s been there a while now.

  4. Becky says:

    Hi, over the past 5 or 6 years I have had re occuring marginal kerititis. I asked at the hospital if it keeps coming back because of stress (because I have been in an emotional abusive relationship for 19years) the doctor said he didn’t think so but I’m not convinced. I have recently split from my husband and am now going through the stresses of divorce and it’s flared up again. I’ve been on oral anti biotics for 3 months. Aswell as drops and steroids. Do you think stress can trigger kerititis?

  5. Sue says:

    Can anxiety make one of your eyes to wander a little. And make you feel off balance?

  6. Diane says:

    I have a client that would like to know if the eye damage caused by stress can be reversed? If yes, how? She specifically asked about exercises that might help her vision. She has geographic atrophy and understands that she can expect degeneration from this condition but feels her eyes have changed a lot during periods of high stress. Not much information is on the topic of stress and vision on the Internet. Can you point us in the direction to some scientific studies or reports? Thanks!

Have a comment or question?