Can stress affect your eyes? Yes, absolutely! Stress and eye health are very closely linked, and high levels of stress can potentially cause vision problems. In fact, you might be surprised at all the many ways that stress can cause vision problems.

These are all vision conditions which can be caused by, or made worse by, too much stress in your life.

How Stress Can Harm Your Vision

1 – Increased eye pressure

Stress increases your blood pressure, as well as hormones such as adrenaline which cause your pupils to dilate. This can cause your eyes to physically enlarge a small amount, by increasing the internal pressure.

While this will not cause damage if it only happens occasionally, in the long term increased eye pressure can start damaging your ocular nerves and potentially degrade your vision. In worst-case scenarios, it could even increase your chances of glaucoma – one of the most common causes of old-age blindness.

2 – Increased light sensitivity / photophobia

The other side effect of stress causing your pupils to dilate is that your eyes lose some of their ability to filter out bright lights. So a particularly stressed individual may find themselves extra sensitive to light, or even experience eye pain in bright sunlight.

3 – Eye twitching

The idea of someone who’s stressed out developing a twitching eye isn’t just a gag for comedy shows – it happens in real life too. If you’re so stressed that you’re developing an eye twitch, you should look into stress relief options. Over the long term, severe eye twitching can cause damage to the eye or associated muscles.

4 – Dry eyes / ocular surface disease

If you have an issue with dry eyes, stress can make it worse. A sort of feedback loop can be set up, where stress causes more dry eyes, which increase your stress. This can be temporarily corrected with eyedrops, but it’s better to cut the stress out of your life.

5 – Tunnel vision

In cases of extreme stress or anger, the patient may develop tunnel vision – an inability to see their peripheral (side) vision. If this happens often, or continues for long periods, you should see an ophthalmologist about the issue. Your vision could be damaged if the problem continues to occur.

Valley Eyecare Center in Phoenix, AZ, wants to help people understand the link between stress and eye health! If you are experiencing stress-related vision problems, please contact us for an appointment.