Stress is a serious problem in America today, with more and more people feeling the pressure. According to a American Psychological Association survey, more than 75% of Americans reported having health problems as a result of high stress – and believe it or not, that can include vision problems!

There’s a definite link between stress and eye health. Multiple eye conditions can either develop, or be made worse, if you’re suffering high levels of stress.

The Link Between Stress and Eye Health

When a person is stressed, it causes their body to react as though it’s in danger – the so-called ‘threat response.’ This causes several changes to the body. For example, your pupils will dilate when your body believes it’s under threat. This is helpful in actual survival situations, since it can improve your vision in short bursts, but in the long term it can cause problems.

In addition, the body produces multiple hormones which change your body’s processes, including cortisol and adrenaline. These increase the heartrate, and redirect bloodflow towards the inner organs, potentially restricting blood in the eyes.

Combined, these stress-induced effects can cause several different vision problems:

  • Eye strain and headaches: Having your pupils constantly dilated puts them under additional strain, leading to pain and headaches.
  • Light sensitivity: Also related to the pupil dilation, you may become extra-sensitive to bright lights, such as moving from indoors to outdoors on a sunny day. This could also cause issues when driving at night.
  • Tunnel vision: When under heavy stress, the brain may begin to ignore your peripheral vision, giving you a feeling of looking down a tunnel towards what’s straight ahead.
  • Blurry vision: When put under enough strain, the eyes may struggle to focus.
  • Dry eyes: People typically don’t blink so often during a threat response, which can lead to dry eyes, and the vision issues that go with them.
  • Eye floaters: Stress doesn’t cause floaters – you’ve had them since birth – but it will make them more noticeable. This could lead to you mistaking a floater for movement in your periphery.

Improving Your Stress and Eye Health

The good news is that stress-related eye problems are rarely permanent, and typically go away simply by de-stressing. We recommend looking for stress- and anger-mangement solutions such as yoga, meditation, or therapy.

If you’re having vision problems that are related to stress, Valley Eyecare Center can help! Please contact us to schedule an appointment.