Stress could contribute to vision loss

Unraveling the Connection: How Stress Contributes to Vision Loss

In a thorough analysis of hundreds of published research and clinical reports, it has been revealed that persistent psychological stress plays a significant role in the development and progression of vision loss. This exploration delves into the intricate relationship between stress and eye diseases, shedding light on how stress can manifest in various eye-related symptoms.

Unveiling the Impact: Stress-Induced Vision Issues

Your experience of blurry vision, eye twitching, headaches, and dry or watery eyes might be more than a mere coincidence; they could be the result of stress. Stress induces various vision problems, including dizziness, eye strain, sensitivity to light, eye floaters, and eye spasms.

Stress, as the body's natural response to demands for change, disrupts its equilibrium, impacting us physically, mentally, emotionally, and visually. This pervasive force can lead to anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure, digestive issues, migraines, and, notably, changes in vision.

The psychosomatic dimension of stress symptoms is paramount. Drawing on the insights of Dr. John Sarno, former professor of rehabilitation at NYU School of Medicine, stress is viewed as the primary cause of chronic pain and other symptoms. Sarno perceives physical manifestations, including changes within the eye and vision system, as reflections of repressed emotions. These symptoms serve to keep individuals focused on their physical bodies, diverting attention from underlying emotions.

Stress, Anxiety, and Their Impact on Vision Loss

Studies suggest a correlation between long-term stress and vision loss. Elevated stress levels increase the hormone cortisol in the body, influencing the sympathetic and vascular nervous systems. Consequently, stress heightens the likelihood of eye-related conditions like optic neuropathy and glaucoma, potentially leading to vision loss. Reading difficulties, challenges in recognizing faces, and hindered day-to-day tasks may ensue.

"Although stress is a known risk factor, its causal role in the development or progression of certain visual system disorders is not widely appreciated," emphasize the researchers who conducted the study.

Adrenaline, another stress-related factor, can also contribute to vision problems. Increased levels of adrenaline due to stress and anxiety can exert pressure on the eyes, resulting in blurred vision. Excessive adrenaline can even induce tunnel vision, especially during high arousal or panic events.

The Emotional Link to Vision Issues

The term "functional" or "hysterical" vision loss describes vision impairment without pathological or structural explanations. This loss occurs outside conscious awareness, representing the conversion of repressed emotions into a significant reduction in vision. Patients complain of substantial blur without refractive error or pathology, and their visual field may appear "tubular."

Hysterical amblyopia aligns with Sarno's belief that our minds compel us to focus on physical symptoms rather than confronting difficult emotions. Resolution often involves awareness of the condition, low plus lenses, and counseling.

Effects of Anxiety on Eyes: What Happens to Your Vision?

Anxiety can manifest in various effects on your eyes, including panic disorders, stressful situations at work or school, medication side effects, and the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Understanding your stress triggers and avoiding stress-inducing situations or people can enhance overall health and well-being.

Reducing Eye-Related Stress and Anxiety: Practical Strategies

To mitigate the impact of stress on vision, consider trying these techniques, keeping in mind that effectiveness may vary:

  1. Relaxing Baths: Take a warm, soothing bath to unwind.
  2. Breathing Exercises: Practice controlled breathing to alleviate stress.
  3. Social Connections: Spend time with friends and family to foster positive emotions.
  4. Laughter Therapy: Incorporate laughter into your routine to enhance well-being.

Research indicates that increased physical activity can effectively reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, contributing to a sense of well-being. Additionally, adopting healthier eating habits, reducing caffeine intake, and seeking professional help for stress and anxiety can be instrumental in maintaining eye health.

Stress and Anxiety's Profound Impact on Eye Health

Cortisol's surge due to stress and anxiety significantly affects eye health, increasing the risk of conditions like glaucoma and potential vision loss. Managing stressful situations is crucial for maintaining eye health and preventing adverse effects on vision. Taking proactive steps, such as seeking professional assistance and avoiding additional strain on your eyes, ensures a holistic approach to well-being.

In conclusion, stress is more than a mental burden; it can cast a shadow on your vision. By understanding and addressing stress-induced factors, you pave the way for not only better eye health but also an improved quality of life.


  1. How stress can affect your vision by: By Beth Duff, reviewed by Valerie Kattouf, OD, FAAO,  September 2019
  2. How Do Stress And Anxiety Impact Vision Loss? Oct 20th 2020

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