Stress is something that affects most of us in our busy lives. It is also a factor that can contribute to a wide variety of common health conditions. However, did you know that stress can also affect your eyes? When life feels too busy or demanding, your eyes can pay the price like the rest of your body does during those emotionally difficult times. The eye care experts here at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons wanted to discuss a few stress-related eye symptoms and what to do about them.
What Causes Stress-Related Eye Problems?
When you get anxious, frightened, or stressed, your body’s instinct is to go into what scientists call “fight or flight” mode. The body starts to produce hormones like adrenaline, which speed up your heart rate and direct more blood to essential functions like your internal organs and less blood to your extremities. The reason your body takes these actions is to protect you. When you worry about something, your brain detects a threat, so its response is to gear up for either fighting the potential danger or running away from it.
When you are in fight or flight mode, your eyes can suffer because your brain will cause your pupils to dilate. This response aims to get more light into your eyes so you can see any potential threats more clearly. Additionally, when you are very tense, as many stressed-out people are, the muscles in and around your eyes can tighten, causing twitching and soreness.
Common Stress-Related Eye Problems
Most eye issues related to stress are temporary. Here are a few of the most common examples:
- Blurry vision – When caused by stress, blurry vision will probably be mild instead of severe.
- Eye strain – Eye strain may be caused by something simple like staring at your computer screen too long at work, but stress can also contribute.
- Eye floaters – Eye floaters are tiny spots that swim across your vision that partially obstruct light as it passes through and cast shadows on the retina.
- Tunnel vision – A loss of peripheral vision that makes it feel like you can only see straight in front of you.
- Sensitivity to light – A sensation where bright light hurts your eyes or makes it difficult to see.
- Eye twitching – A random spasm that can affect one or both eyes.
- Very dry or very wet eyes – While these are opposite symptoms, either one can be induced by stress. It all depends on how your body responds to a difficult situation.
- Fluid buildup – Central serous choroidopathy is a more severe eye condition that can result from a reaction to stress. This condition, which can cause fluid buildup in the retina, can eventually leak into an area beneath the retina called the choroid, affecting the eye, sending sight information to the brain.
How to Take Action and Overcome Stress?
The key to taking the edge off eye conditions from stress is to lower your stress level. We recommend trying the following stress relief techniques when possible:
- Sleeping at least 8 hours a night
- Exercising every day
- Taking slow, deep breaths, sending the air into your belly instead of your chest when feeling over stressed
- Practicing wellness techniques like yoga and meditation
- Writing in a journal
Managing stress in healthier ways can significantly decrease your chances of experiencing these issues and help your eyes return to a normal, healthier state. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience persistent eye trouble like the issues mentioned above. If you are experiencing eye problems and you would like to schedule an eye exam, contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons and make an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. March Lay today. You can also follow us on Facebook for more eye care tips, practice news, and much more.