What to Know About Stress and Vision Problems

Male sitting at a laptop reading a letter and looking worried.

Americans are stressed. About 78% report feeling stressed every week. About one in seven are stressed every day. People experience stress in different ways. And it can be triggered by any number of life’s challenges. Here’s what you should know about the correlation between mental stress and vision problems.

Vision stress symptoms
Many people struggle with mental stress, due to worries about money, work problems, relationships or retirement planning. Over time, it can lead to many types of vision problems. Here are 12 signs:

  1. Double vision
  1. Eye strain
  1. Sore eye muscles
  1. Fogginess
  1. Light flashes
  1. Tunnel vision
  1. Dimmed vision
  1. Visual distortions
  1. Eye twitching
  1. Dilated pupils
  1. Reduced blinking
  1. Dry eyes or very wet eyes

Vision stress can affect one eye only, both eyes simultaneously or shift between the eyes. People may notice more vision problems with additional stress or during stress-related attacks. These vision changes can occur frequently or randomly.

Causes of stress

Common causes of mental stress include anxiety, social isolation, worry, fear and depression. People who experience chronic stress and anxiety may have higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol that can lead to vision problems. However, changing behaviors and reducing stress can help people cope better with daily stressors.

Adrenaline caused by anxiety and stress can linger in the body. It can cause pressure to build up in the back of the eyes and cause vision problems.

When people are under stress, the body also may raise the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone can increase blood pressure, respiration and muscle tension. If too much cortisol is released in the body, it can impact blood flow between the eyes and the brain, leading to vision problems.

How to reduce stress

The best way to reduce vision problems is to lower stress. A few activities that can help are:

  1. Yoga or meditation
  1. Controlled breathing
  1. Sound therapy
  1. Relaxation activities with family or friends (invite the pets, too)
  1. Exercising, such as walking, swimming, biking or jogging

In addition to stress, people may notice vision changes after age 40. It’s a normal experience caused by aging. Learn more about how aging can affect your vision.

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