Stress and Blurry Vision + What to Do About It

June 19, 2021

Have you ever found yourself rubbing your eyes more or needing to take more frequent reading breaks during times of intense stress? Well, there’s a scientific reason for that. Believe it or not, researchers have discovered a link between stress and blurry vision.

But there’s more—they also found a major link between stress and some pretty major causes of vision loss.

If this is happening to you, take heart! There is something you can do about it—and we’re going to discuss that right now. Let’s learn why this is happening and then review some of my top tips for relieving stress-related vision issues.


Stress and Blurry Vision: How Stress Hurts Your Eyes

We’ve spent a few years now discussing how chronic stress causes adrenal fatigue and often results in a variety of health concerns, from anxiety and depression to digestive troubles, diabetes, and even weight gain.

But you may be surprised to learn that something happens to your eyesight when you’re experiencing stress as well. Anytime your body is under stress, your pupils dilate.

Why? Because your body wants to make sure you’re able to see the source of your stress (your “threat”) more clearly. Think about my bear scenario and it makes sense, right?

If you were to encounter a bear, your body goes into high alert and wants to make sure you can see the danger in front of you.

The problem with this is that the increased levels of adrenaline in your body actually increases the pressure in your eyes, which can result in altered vision—and this explains the link between stress and blurry vision. [1]

Now, this is fine from time to time, but what happens when you’re under chronic stress? Well, this sets you up for prolonged blurry vision.

It can even cause eye twitching, which is when your eye lid contracts. Fortunately, that’s typically a short-lived issue, but not all ocular impacts are that benign.

Stress is also linked to eye strain, sensitivity to light, dizziness, and even eye floaters.

And the really hard truth is that research is now showing that not only does stress cause blurry vision but it also worsens existing eye conditions. The fact is that eyesight loss due to stress is a very real concern affecting many people.

According to a 2018 landmark review, researchers found that elevated cortisol levels due to chronic stress impact both your eyes and brain. [2]

This is due to an imbalance in your autonomous nervous system and vascular dysregulation (meaning your blood flow isn’t equally distributed to where it needs to go due to your body’s stress).

The result? A stress-induced heighted level of cortisol increases your risk of not only developing deteriorating vision but also causes it to progress!

The bottom line here?  The researchers discovered that stress is one of the major causes of vision loss, including loss due to glaucoma and optic neuropathy.

So, what are we supposed to do about it—especially given the fact that we’re often told vision deterioration or loss is irreversible?

Fortunately, some of the studies included in the 2018 review confirmed that reducing your stress, thereby reducing your cortisol level, can actually aid in restoring your vision.

That means hope isn’t lost and there is something you can do about it—now! Keep reading to get my top tips on relieving stress and improving your vision as a result!


Stress and blurry vision - Dr. Pingel


5 Ways to Relieve Stress-Related Vision Problems

Here are a few ways to find relieve of both your stress and blurry vision.

1. Eat an antioxidant-rich diet.

When it comes to stress and blurry vision, we must first discuss the role of antioxidants.

Stress actually reduces the antioxidants in your body, and antioxidants are critical for many areas of your health, including your eye sight.

In fact, according to a 2014 review, supplementing with antioxidants plus lutein can help slow the development of age-related macular degeneration. [3]

Moreover, the review confirmed that consuming antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables also helped prevent glaucoma.

Need a little more proof? Another study revealed that when people consumed antioxidants in supplement form, it decreased their reported signs and symptoms of stress and fatigue.

None of this is very surprising, considering that we now know stress is not only one of the major causes of both impaired vision and glaucoma but it’s also one of the major thieves of your antioxidants. [4]

So, what foods should you be eating to get more antioxidants in your body and combat the impact of stress and blurry vision?

Plant-based foods naturally high in antioxidants include: avocados, sweet potatoes, walnuts, pecans, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, dark chocolate, beans, dark leafy greens, apples, plums, and cherries.

2. Practice stress-relieving mind-body exercises.

As we’ve discussed, if you’re looking to prevent the harmful link between stress and blurry vision, one of the best ways to do that is by reducing your stress. And one of the top ways I’ve found to reduce stress is to practice certain mind-body exercises.

The truth of the matter is that much of our stress comes from how we perceive certain events in our lives. So, by learning how to manage that perception, you can cut down on the stress you experience on a regular basis.

Personally, I recommend including some deep breathing exercises in your daily routine and combining that with meditation and even journaling.

Certain deep breathing techniques such as abdominal breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and other breathing techniques have been shown to decrease both anxiety and stress by instantly calming your body and mind. [5] And meditation has been shown to have the same results.

Also, by taking a few minutes each day to also journal about your gratitude for your loved ones, good health, and positive life experiences, you’ll feel yourself relax.

Simply taking a few moments to remind yourself of your greatest attributes and practice some self-love can also go a long way in helping you to let go of stress and anxiety.

3. Take breaks from your screens.

We know that staying glued to your smartphone or tablet is stressful. And we know it isn’t good for your eyesight. So, it’s really no surprise that taking regular breaks from your screens could help fight the link between stress and blurry vision, right?

In fact, a 2017 study revealed that cutting down on your smartphone usage can save your eyesight and ward off issues such as blurred vision, burning eyes, dry eyes, and sensitivity to light. [6]

Moreover, it found that prolonged smartphone reading could cause worse symptoms, which are magnified when you read off a screen in a darkened room!

I know it can be hard to break away from your phone, especially if you have a demanding job that requires you to be almost constantly available. If you need some tips on how to do this, check out my tips on how to perform a mini tech cleanse.

You’ll notice a decrease in your stress levels almost immediately and, hopefully, your vision will get a much-deserved break as well!

Key Takeaways

  • Researchers have discovered a link between stress and blurry vision.
  • The increased levels of adrenaline in your body that occurs due to stress actually increases the pressure in your eyes, which can result in altered vision. Elevated cortisol levels also affect your vision.
  • A few ways to find relieve of both your stress and blurry vision include: eating an antioxidant-rich diet, practicing mind-body exercises, and taking breaks from your screens.
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