Can Stress Cause Vision Problems?

People often say that stress physically manifests itself—and research actually backs this up. Consistent and highly prevalent stressors often lead to affiliated health issues, and studies have actually found that stress can cause vision problems and can lead to vision loss. The following are scientific links between stress and vision, and the connection to overall health:

The Stress Hormone

The first link to stress-related vision problems comes in one powerful hormone: cortisol. It’s gradually released by the body as a reaction to stress, and is responsible for the associated increase in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and muscle tension. Cortisol is so powerful that it’s actually coined “The Stress Hormone,” and is most notable for temporarily regulating the body’s digestive and reproductive systems during periods of crisis.

Experiencing cyclically anxious thoughts leads to a dangerous increase in cortisol rates, which disrupts blood flow from the eye to the brain, possibly causing vision problems due to stress. The issue could be as drawn out as stress-related macular degeneration or as short term as constantly transposing words as a result of a vision-related learning disability in children. Because stress and reactions vary for each person, various treatments, from talk therapy to vision therapy, could be suggested by your doctor.

Fight or Flight Hormone

In times of stress, our body’s response can cause us to release adrenaline, otherwise known as “The Fight or Flight Hormone.” Adrenaline speeds up our heart rate with cortisol, directs the blood flow away from the “unneeded” digestive and reproductive systems, and moves it to the internal organs and extremities perceived to be in danger.

“The Fight or Flight Hormone” is said to cause your pupils to dilate in an attempt to increase light flow to the eyes and easily detect potential threats. Constant, severe stress levels and subsequent releases of adrenaline lead to consistent dilated pupils and an eventual light sensitivity. This can lead to the twitching and tightening of eye muscles, which causes stress-related vision problems and eye discomfort.


With stress comes cortisol and adrenaline spikes, which means potential vision problems or loss can be caused by stress over time. When we forget to breathe on top of all of this stress, our oxygen blood levels dip even lower, leading to less oxygen transporting to vital blood cells in the brain and eyes.

As a result of the retina not receiving enough oxygen, potential cell damage and eventual death occur. While it’s not always easy, practicing breathing treatments in times of perceived crisis could make a world of a difference.


Consistent and highly prevalent elevated stress levels often trigger symptoms in people with autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, lupus, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more. The issue is linked to one factor: inflammation.

Targeting inflammation through various natural or pharmaceutical treatments sees benefits, but decreasing stress levels through various treatments seems to be the root of these major health issues. Taking care of your mental health means more than you could ever realize, and avoiding the negative impacts of inevitable life stress can save your vision in the long run. Get a complimentary consultation at OCVT to see if stress is impacting your vision and get the proper care you need to protect your vision.

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