Stressed out? You may have more than just sweaty palms and shaky fingers.

Stress can cause eye and vision problems, too. When you’re stressed, your body goes through a series of mental and physical changes.

These changes can affect your vision, causing light sensitivity, blurry sight, sore eye muscles, constant twitching, and more.

The good news? Reducing stress may help reverse these symptoms and restore your vision. You can try meditation and yoga for quick relief.

In today’s post, we’ll explore how stress and eye problems are interlinked. We’ll also list some common symptoms you may face and how you can ease them.

Take a deep breath, relax, and read on!

Symptoms of Stress-Related Eye Problems

From tunnel vision to sore eye muscles, stress can cause many different eye symptoms. These may affect one or both of your eyes.

But don’t worry. Stress-related eye problems are temporary. They come and go, and may disappear entirely without having to visit an eye doctor.

closeup of red eye

Here are some of the most common stress effects on the eyes.

  • Sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing
  • Tunnel or narrowed vision
  • Constant eye twitching
  • Dry eyes and/or excessive watering
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Eye strain
  • Eye floaters
  • Fogginess
  • Momentarily brightened or dimmed vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Surreal or dream-like vision
  • Visual distortions, including kaleidoscopic vision
  • Sore eye muscles

How Stress Affects Your Vision

Stress can affect your vision in more ways than one. When you’re stressed, your heart rate increases along with your blood pressure and muscle tension. At the same time, your breathing rate goes down.

Along with these physical changes, you undergo hormonal changes, too, like cortisol and adrenaline spikes.

These physical and hormonal changes together affect your vision. You may have blurred vision, twitching, eye soreness, and light sensitivity as a result.

Let’s take a closer look at how can stress cause vision problems.

Stress Hormone Spike

Stress and blurred vision are generally a result of cortisol, the stress hormone. Your body slowly releases cortisol as a reaction to stress. Can stress cause blurry vision too? Well, yes.

A spike in cortisol levels can disrupt blood flow from your eyes to your brain. This causes vision problems, including stress-related macular degeneration, soreness, and blurred vision.

Adrenaline Rush

When you’re stressed, frightened, or anxious, your body releases adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. This speeds up your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, and creates more tension in the muscles.

It also causes your pupils to dilate. As a result, more light enters your eye to help you see potential threats easily.

closeup of human eye with dilated pupil

But adrenaline spikes can cause pressure on your eyes, resulting in blurred vision, discomfort, and twitching of the eye muscles.

Oxygen Dip

Another reason why stress can cause vision problems is because of the dip in oxygen levels. When you’re stressed, your breathing changes. You stop breathing at regular intervals, and you may even forget to breathe for long periods.

This in turn will lower your oxygen blood levels. Less oxygen than normal will reach vital blood cells in your brain and eyes. As a result, your retina will not receive enough oxygen, and you will experience several vision problems.

Decreased Appetite

Long-term stress and anxiety can decrease your appetite. You may even forget to eat on time or drink enough water during the day. Or you may binge eat at odd hours.

Poor appetite and dehydration can cause dry eye syndrome. This may result in gritty, watery eyes as well as blurred vision. Plus, you will not get enough nutrients for healthy eyes.

Other Causes of Vision Problems

Stress and anxiety may not be the only blame for vision problems. There are several other common causes, too, like diabetes, eye infection, stroke, or retinopathy. Some of these conditions can be life-threatening without treatment.

These underlying conditions can cause various eye problems, including blurred vision, eye floaters, and dry eyes.

Here are some common causes of eye problems.

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infection and inflammation
  • Eye injury
  • Digital eye strain and fatigue
  • Macular degeneration
  • Detached retina
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Fatigue
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Retinopathy
  • Nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Hyphema
  • Temporal arteritis
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar

If you experience eye symptoms that don’t go away on their own, it’s prudent to see a doctor. That way you can rule out medical conditions that may be causing them.

Tips to Ease Stress

Are your eye and vision problems a cause of constant stress? The key to easing them is to lower your stress levels at the workplace and beyond. Here are some quick ways to relax and ease your stress.

  • Try meditating: Meditating for even a few minutes will help put your mind at ease. Start by focusing on your breathing: in and out, in and out. You will feel a lot lighter and relaxed by the end of the session.
  • Practice yoga: The ancient art of yoga can calm your body and mind. You can easily find simple yoga lessons online. Practice a few poses every day. Doing so will lower your blood pressure and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Eat healthy: The food you eat affects every aspect of your life, including your mental health. Avoid processed foods with added sugar. Check our blog for healthy foods and recipes for your eyes. Along with reducing stress, a balanced diet will also help keep your eyes healthy.
  • Practice self-care: Self-care can be anything from listening to good music to watching a movie, taking a bath, going on a long walk, lighting scented candles, getting a massage, drinking tea, reading a book, painting, and more.
  • Seek social support: Spend more time with your friends and family. Talk about what’s causing you stress in the first place. They may not altogether remove its cause, but a patient ear will help you cope better. According to a well-know study, interacting with others can reduce the release of cortisol that occurs in stressful situations and increase your resilience to stress.

three women friends hanging out outside

Undiagnosed eye health problems like dry eye disease can compound stress. They can affect your day-to-day activities, lower your productivity, and put you in a bad mood. Diagnosing them is the first step to managing them.

If your eyes feel dry and tired, you may have dry eye disease, a condition that can cause many other symptoms, some more subtle than others.

Our simple online quiz can help you find out whether you may have the condition. Take the Dry Eye Test now.

The Wrap Up

Most people wonder, “Can stress cause eye problems?” The simple answer is yes.

Stress and anxiety can cause a series of physical and mental changes that can affect your vision. Some common symptoms include light sensitivity, tunnel vision, eye twitching, sore eye muscles, and eye strain.

But stress-related eye symptoms are reversible. You only need to manage your stress to ease them. Through a combination of rest and activities like mediation, yoga, or practicing self-care, you can remove the tension from your body.

Stress-free days will do wonders for your eye health and overall wellbeing. So no matter how busy your schedule is or how demanding your work, make room for them in your life. Plan ahead rest days and enjoyable activities to keep stress under control and your vision healthy.


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