Four ways stress can impact your eyesight – and what to do about it

Worried about your vision? Here are four ways stress can impact your eyesight – and what to do about it.

When your body experiences a surge in stress or anxiety, it sparks an instinct that is defined as ‘fight or flight mode’. Adrenaline-like hormones causes your heart rate to increase which, in turn, encourages your brain to direct more blood to your major organs.

This instinct was wired in us many, many thousands of years ago when we lived in frequent physical danger. However, in the 21stcentury the external factors that lead to stress have dramatically altered, and we can experience high levels of stress on a day to day basis – whether we’re in physical danger or not.

This daily stress can have a significant impact on our mental and physical health, including our sleeping patterns. A combination of stress and lack of sleep can also have a detrimental effect on our eyes.

And, while these effects may not be permanent, they can be incredibly painful and unpleasant. PureOptical explain how everyday life can affect your eyes, and suggests ways you can help to keep them healthy.

1) Your eyes can become sensitive to light

If your eyes are unusually sensitive to light, it can indicate that your body is experiencing high levels of stress. Originating from the body’s ‘Fight or Flight’ defence mechanism, your pupils dilate as a result of amplified hormone levels.

This dilation is designed to allow extra light into your eyes so you can identify possible threats fast. However, if you’re living with regular or chronic stress, the additional light can cause your eyes to strain, and make you uncomfortably susceptible to bright lights.

2) Lack of sleep can cause your vision to blur

It is not uncommon for high levels of stress to impact our sleep. And, not only does a lack of sleep impact our functionality, but it can also affect our eyes. 

Studies have found that our eyes need at least five hours of sleep in order to function to their full potential. The neurological effects of a sleepless night can result in blurred vision. And in extreme cases, too little sleep can cause the blood vessels in your eye to burst due to strain. 

3) You can get twitchy eyes

Myokymia is the name given to the involuntary twitching of the eye which is often caused by a lack of sleep. Some eye twitching can last anything from a matter of seconds up to several hours.

Temporary twitching of the eye is often nothing serious and the simplest way to solve it is to gain adequate sleep and stay away from caffeine.

4) Your eyes can become dry or watery

Your eyes are constantly lubricated in order avoid eye infections and encourage moisture. But when you are stressed, the eyes can become incredibly dry or very watery. 

Stress has been linked to Central Serous Choroidopathy. Essentially, the condition causes fluid to build up in the retina which can then leak into the choroid. This can affect the part of the eye that sends sight to the brain.

Although no one knows what causes Central Serous Choroidopathy, studies have shown stress can play an instrumental factor in the condition. In severe cases, laser must be used however, many cases clear up on their own.

How to protect your eyesight from stress

In order to ensure that you have healthy eyes, make sure you eat a diet that includes foods that are high in Omega 3. Dark greens such as kale and spinach provides essential nutrients to your body too, including your eyes.

Try not to spend too long staring at a screen too. The average person spends most of their day using screens and, as much as we can attempt to monitor screen time, prolonged periods are inevitable.

So ensure that you take regular breaks to allow your eyes to have rest and refocus.

And finally, make sure you wear sunglasses when you’re outside. Don’t expose your eyes to sunlight unless they are protected. Sunlight can severely strain the eyes which can have a long-term impact on your eye health.

Photo by Tyler Nix