How Stress Affects Your Eyes?

Stress negatively impacts your overall wellbeing. Too much stress can cause problems such as depression, heart ailments, high blood pressure, resulting in other serious conditions. But do you know that too much stress can also impact your vision? Yes, stress can affect your vision in many ways. Let’s take a look:

1. Central Serous Retinopathy

Central serous retinopathy (CSR) affects the Macula which is the central area of Retina. In this condition, excessive fluid gets accumulated underneath your Macula, thus causing distorted and blurred vision. Whenever you look at any object, it will appear smaller or distorted. In most of the cases, Central Serous Retinopathy gets better with time and without any treatment and it doesn’t cause any long-term changes in your vision. However, in many people, the condition might recur. If it is a recurring problem, in that case, chances are high that your vision might get permanently affected. This condition is also known as Central Serous Chorioretinopathy. If you are under high stress, your body releases stress hormone into your blood called Cortisol. This helps your body to cope with stress. Although Cortisol is essential for your body but a high level of Cortisol in your bloodstream causes problems. This includes vision related problems (CSR), immune suppression (reduce your body’s ability to fight diseases and infection) and increases the fragility of your blood vessels.

2. Blepharospasm

This condition is also known as eyelid twitching. Usually, Blepharospasm is caused by high level of stress. In this condition, the constant spasms make your eyelid twitch uncontrollably. This might irritate or frustrate you. In most of the cases, other observers won’t be able to see the twitching movement in your eyelids. With time, the twitching gradually lessens and usually doesn’t need any treatment. However, if this continues for longer time period, then the doctor might recommend injecting Botox near your eyelids. This helps in preventing muscle twitching. High stress, lack of sleep along with caffeine consumption may trigger this condition.

3. Nystagmus

This is a vision condition where your eye makes an uncontrolled movement. These movements are repetitive. Such frequent movements often cause reduced vision and a reduced depth perception. Such issues can affect your balance and coordination. In this eye condition, your eye moves either up or down, side to side, or in a circular way. And as a result, your eyes cannot see objects steadily. People suffering from Nystagmus often nod or hold their heads in unusual positions to see clearly.
Fatigue and stress is one of the triggers of nystagmus and often make the condition worse. It is not possible to cure this condition with any treatment but using eyeglasses can improve your vision to some extent. In extreme cases, the eye surgeon may manipulate the muscles that are controlling your eye movement for reducing the symptoms.


4. Dry Eyes

When you are stressed, your body increases and thickens the blood flow in your stream in order to protect you from the negative effects of stress. When the blood flow increases, your heart too works harder than usual for circulating the blood. In such case, blood circulation to the extremities in your body, such as your brain, skin and eyes is decreased. As a result, your eyes become dry and irritated. In a study published in Pakistan Journal Of Medical Science in 2015, the researchers studied the relation between psychosomatic conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression and Dry Eye Disease (DED). The study involving 121 people concluded that people with stress, anxiety, and depression are prone to Dry Eye Disease compared to those who do not suffer from those psychosomatic conditions.


5. Blurred vision

Blurred vision

Stress affects your body and manifests itself in a number of ways. Blurred vision is a secondary symptom of stress and when you experience vision problem, it creates more stress, thus aggravating the situation. When you experience stress, your body reacts to it as if it is facing something dangerous, causing your pupils to dilate. As a result, more light enters the eye so that you can assess the situation in a better way. However, too much light results in poor vision and blurriness. A study published in the journal called Optometry in 2010 found that patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often suffer from blurred vision. PTSD is a condition linked to an unpleasant memory that causes a severe emotional response in you causing stress and other psychological and physical symptoms. For more information, visit


6. Functional/Hysterical Vision Loss

Hysterical vision loss is different from malingering. It affects you outside your conscious awareness. Based on the Freudian concept, Hysteria can be defined as a conversion disorder which is caused by an extreme psychological conflict. Such conflicts often manifest itself in form of physical symptoms. Stress is one of the leading causes of such conversion reaction causing trauma and fear. This problem is characterised by poor visual acuity, reduced hyperopic refractive status, stereopsis, and emmetropia. Even using corrective lenses often doesn’t help in improving your distance visual acuity.


7. Photophobia

This condition is also known as light sensitivity. Under this, you will experience intolerance of light. From an incandescent light to the normal sunlight, any and all light sources can cause discomfort so that you will feel like squinting or closing your eyes. This condition is accompanied by headaches. People suffering from light sensitivity are bothered by bright light. However, in extreme cases, any source of light will cause irritation in your eyes. This is not a disease but actually a symptom of other conditions such as Corneal Abrasion, any infection or inflammation of eyes, Uveitis, and other Central Nervous System disorders (such as meningitis). This condition can also be caused by detached retina and irritation caused by contact lenses. Stress can further aggravate this condition, making it worse.


Most of the eye conditions caused by stress are temporary. However, if such symptoms are persistent, then get in touch with an eye specialist immediately.

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