Does Chronic Stress Affect Your Eyes?

A young woman sits cross legged and meditates while taking a break in front of her work desk

April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s an important time to consider how stress is present in your life and how it affects your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our experienced eye care team cares not only about the health of your eyes but your whole wellness: body and mind.

Stress can increase your risk of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain

Your mind perceives stress as something to run away from. This flight or fight response causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones. As a result, your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure increases, and alarm bells are set off all over your body. If you were actually running away from a predator or your life was in danger, this acute stress reaction is useful to survival; however, unlike our ancient ancestors, our chronic work and life stressors tend to be low stakes and persistent – running for our lives won’t help these types of situations! Long-term stress reaction leads to the problems listed above.

Did you know that stress also affects your eyes and vision? If you are stressed, you may not be able to get good sleep. If the stress is coming from a big work project that involves computer use, you may be staring at the screen for long hours at a time, not blinking enough and straining your eyes. All of this can lead to:

While these visual and eye-related problems may be temporary, chronically elevated high blood pressure and lack of sleep is not good for your eyes long-term.

Stress Management Tips

There are so many ways you can manage stress and professional counseling can be really helpful to learn the techniques. A few basic recommendations are:

  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Reduce alcohol consumption because it negatively impacts your sleep
  • Talk to a therapist about stress management
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques
  • Practice self-care, including making time for hobbies and things you enjoy
  • Prioritize work and home tasks and letting go of other tasks
  • Let go of what you cannot control

This Stress Awareness Month, put yourself first and take steps to mitigate the effect that stress has on your life and your health.

Receive Customized Eye Care and Advice

If you are concerned about visual symptoms or a change in your eye health, we hope you’ll call Kirk Eye Center in Loveland, CO, at 970-669-1107. Our experienced eye doctors provide skilled ophthalmological services and are ready to help you understand how chronic stress and other issues may be affecting your eyes.

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