Can Stress Affect Eyesight?

Stress is something we have all experienced. We may feel particularly well versed in the feelings of stress this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing so much continued uncertainty. With this in mind, it’s important to know the effects of stress and how you can reduce stress levels.

It may come as a surprise but stress can have a large effect on your eyesight. Whilst stress is often thought as something that occurs in our mentality, we can have bodily responses to it. Different people will have different responses to stress. These responses can be physical, mental, emotional, or visual.

When your body senses stress, your pupils dilate which lets more light in to the eye – so that you should be able to detect possible threats more clearly. But when the pupils stay dilated for a longer period of time, it can cause problems. Stress can cause new conditions for the eyes and worsen existing ones. In extreme cases, it can even cause sight loss. The effects of stress on eyesight can be seen in the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision: High levels of adrenaline can cause pressure on the eyes which often results in blurred vision.
  • Dizziness: You could feel light-headed or woozy due to stress. This is due to the affects stress has on the brain.
  • Eye Strain: Just like the soreness of the eyes that you may feel when looking at digital screens for a long period of time, this same discomfort can be caused by stress. 
  • Sensitivity to light: You may experience difficulty in seeing in bright light or having sore eyes.
  • Eye spasms: These occur due to a contraction of a muscle. They typically affect one eye, and are temporary.
  • Eye floaters: These are tiny spots that swim across your vision. The spots appear differently for different people.  
  • Watery or dry eyes: Either one of these can be caused by stress, which one you feel depends on how your body reacts to stress.  
  • Headaches: Stress-headaches are often caused by muscle tension.

Thankfully, most of these stress related eye problems are temporary. Once the stressor is removed, the symptom should also come to an end. Similarly, whilst it is worrying that stress can cause vision loss, the good news is that reducing stress levels can also help reverse the decline of eyesight and restore vision.

It is so important to look after our mental health. It is also incredibly difficult to avoid stress completely but you can try to reduce stress levels as much as possible. Why not put some time aside for self-care and ‘me-time’? Activities that reduce stress are generally the ones you enjoy, pick up any hobbies that you have let slide! You should also try to exercise, get a good 8 hours of sleep at night, eat a healthy balanced diet and try to spend some time in the outdoors.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms over a long period of time, you should book an appointment with an optician.

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