Stress is not only emotionally debilitating, but it can also cause the body to physically react negatively as well. It is widely known that long-term stress can pose a risk for severe health problems such as obesity, heart disease, depression and difficulty sleeping. However, not many know that stress can also have an impact on your eyes. Knowing some of the eye problems associated with stress can help identify the condition early.

Eye Strain and Dry Eyes

Eye strain is a term that describes multiple symptoms, often resulting from stress and overstraining the eyes. It is often caused by activities that require extended use of the eyes, such as using the computer for several hours, playing a video game or driving for prolonged periods. Such activities can keep a person from blinking often. Some of the symptoms of eye strain include blurry vision, dry and itchy eyes, headaches and dizziness.
Fortunately, these symptoms are temporary and can be treated with sufficient rest and stress-relieving activities.

Central Serous Retinopathy

Another eye condition that is believed to be worsened with stress is central serous retinopathy, also called central serous choroidopathy. The direct cause of the condition is unknown. The problem occurs when blood vessels begin leaking under the retina, causing swelling. The swelling blurs central vision and in some cases, straight lines may seem distorted.
The fluid accumulated under the retina normally clears within 1-2 months, with no permanent vision loss. However, certain patients, especially those with severe central serous retinopathy may need laser treatment to reduce the retinal edema and clear fluid leakage. Most patients gain their vision back post-treatment, but some may experience repeated episodes in the future.

Blepharospasms or Eyelid Twitching

Eyelid twitching commonly results from stress. While some just last a few seconds, others may last for several hours – or even days.
Twitching typically occurs in the lower eyelid but it isn’t uncommon to experience it in both upper and lower eyelids. In severe cases, eyelid twitching may last for prolonged periods, causing eyelids to close completely and indicating that the problem has an underlying neurological cause.
Most of the time, twitching caused by stress is harmless and does not cause any vision-related problems. However, persistent twitching may require a doctor’s attention.


According to the American Optometric Association, nystagmus is generally triggered by stress and overall fatigue. Nystagmus is an eye condition in which the eye may make uncontrolled movements, such as rapidly moving up and down, side to side or in a combination of movements.
The condition causes poor depth perception and impaired vision, especially if eye movement is frequent. Although treatment may not cure or prevent the condition, eyeglasses may help improve vision to a certain extent.
In the case of severe nystagmus, surgery may be needed to manipulate eye muscles responsible for the movement to reduce nystagmus episodes.

Reducing the Risk of Eye problems

The key to reducing the risk of eye problems resulting from stress is battling the root cause – i.e. stress and anxiety. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, imagery exercises, yoga, getting enough sleep and aromatherapy are excellent ways of controlling stress. If you have any concerns about your eye health, please schedule a visit with LaserCare Eye Center by calling 214-328-0444.