This Wednesday 6th November is National Stress Awareness Day, creating a great reminder to take a moment to think about your wellbeing and finding ways to manage stress. This can be incredibly important because chronic stress can have a negative impact on your body, and your eyes are no exception.
When you experience stress, your body will follow a fight or flight response and will react in a number of different ways.
What happens to your vision when you are stressed?
Problems with your eyesight caused by stress are often temporary and will reduce once you are no longer stressed. If this doesn’t happen, you should see your optician to make sure there are no underlying problems with your eyes.
Your pupils naturally dilate when stressed in order to enhance vision. If you are continually stressed, or experiencing a high stress situation, this could impact your vision. Due to how your body reacts to stressful situations, you may experience one, all, or none of the following symptoms.
Eye strain, while more commonly caused by digital screens, can also occur due to stress. This is because you will often tense your muscles, resulting in headaches and muscular pain. Similarly, eye twitching could be down to tense muscles, as well as lack of sleep which often occur if you are feeling stressed.
The dilation of your pupils for a prolonged period of time could result in blurred vision and light sensitivity. This is because when your eyes are dilated, they let more light in.
Dry eyes or watery eyes can also sometimes be caused by stress. You may experience one or the other, depending on how your body responds.
How to reduce the effects of stress on your vision
Simply put, the most straightforward way to reduce these symptoms is to reduce your stress levels. While this may be easier said than done, it’s important to recognise when you are stressed and what you can do to feel better.
Following a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain good health, so that even when you do feel stressed, the effects might not be too extreme. A healthy lifestyle can also help to promote good eyesight.
Make sure you get enough sleep and follow a healthy diet; consider which vitamins and minerals you should eat in order to promote good vision. These include omega-3 and lutein, which can be found in fish and dark, leafy greens respectively. Vitamins A, C and E are generally known for maintaining healthy eyes.
If you often use a computer screen for work, this may exacerbate your symptoms of stress. It is key that you take regular breaks from your screen to give your eyes time to rest. If you require glasses for screens, remember to wear them!