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Stress And Vision Loss: Is There a Link?

Stress is perhaps the most common cause of many health issues that people face today. This has been proven by various case studies done over the years. Studies have suggested that eyes and vision can also be impacted along with various other major organs of the body. In fact, excessive stress in many people has resulted in them losing their vision. There has been a strong link substantiated between vision loss and the stress hormone, namely cortisol [1].

Cortisol is released during times of stress and results in the symptoms experienced during stress such as rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased muscle tension. The more the stress is, the greater will be the levels of cortisol released by the body. If it reaches levels that are dangerously high then there is disruption of blood flow from the eye to the brain resulting in vision problems [1].

The degree of vision loss differs from person to person as the response to stress is significantly variable. People benefit from vision therapy, counseling, and other coping mechanism for stress induced vision loss [1]. Read below for the details of the link between stress and vision loss.

Stress And Vision Loss: Is There a Link?

A recent research suggests that stress is both a causative factor as well as the result of continuous stress. The studies also recommend physicians should work towards reducing stress and work towards devising a coping mechanism for patients so that normal vision can be restored at the quickest possible time. If the ability to see gets affected, the stress level of the individual automatically skyrockets and people start worrying more about their eyesight which further fuels the production of cortisol causing more harm. It at times also results in social isolation and severe depression. Now, we know that vision loss has a direct relationship with increased stress [2].

The latest research by professors at the Institute of Psychology, University of Germany, explains in detail how increased levels of cortisol affect the sympathetic and vascular nervous systems. This negatives impacts the way the brain and the eyes function resulting in ophthalmic conditions like glaucoma or optic neuropathy affecting the eyesight of the individual. This result was arrived after analyzing numerous case studies and clinical trials and they also mention that any existing eye disorders can get aggravated by increased stress [2].

The team leader of the research on stress related vision loss explains the presence of clear cut evidence that stress has an active role to play in acceleration of vision loss caused by conditions like glaucoma, optic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. The studies also reveal that if the stress is handled well in a healthy way then the vision problems can be taken care of effectively. However, researchers feel that more studies need to be conducted to go more in depth into what effect psychosomatic factors have on the overall eye health [2].

What the researchers do clearly explain that while treating patients who have vision problems due to stress they should be optimistic towards them and make them feel positive that their vision will be restored once the stress levels come down. They may recommend healthy ways to decrease stress in the form of meditation, yoga, and counseling can lead the way towards restoration of vision [2].

In fact, if an individual feels that their stress levels are way to excessive then they should resort to the above measures as a preventive measures to not only calm them but also prevent complications like vision loss. There have been cases where many patients are told bluntly by their physicians that the chances of their vision getting restored are quite guarded which is not the right approach even though they may be right in certain cases. This is because it tends to further increase the stress levels and aggravate the condition. However, researchers are of the opinion that how effective stress management techniques are in restoring vision and how much it takes for it to happen requires more research and analysis than what is existing now [2].

In conclusion, there is a clear link between continuous stress and vision loss. This happens due to dangerously high levels of cortisol that is released by the body as a result of stress. This happens when the increased levels of cortisol interferes with the communication between the eyes and brain. It has also been established that people with existing eye disorders and who are under continuous stress are vulnerable to worsening of their condition [2].

The physicians therefore are recommended to handle such patients with utmost care and be optimistic about restoring vision and give them tips on decreasing stress in a healthful manner. However, more research needs to be done in this sphere as to how long it takes for vision to be restored and whether there is complete restoration once the stress levels come back down to normal [1,2].


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 2, 2022

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