Anxiety and blurred vision: is there a link?
Anxiety is a normal human emotion, which has been ingrained in us for hundreds of thousands of years.
When you become anxious, your body goes through a series of mental and physical changes in order to protect you from potential harm. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include changes in your heart rate, breathing, and even your vision. This includes, in some cases, the development of blurred vision.
In this article, we’ll explore if anxiety causes blurry vision, other ways anxiety can affect your vision, and when to seek treatment for sudden blurry vision.
Blurred vision is defined as a loss of focus and sharpness of sight which makes it difficult to see objects clearly.
Blurred vision is most often associated with “myopic” or “hyperopic” vision and is usually treated with corrective lenses. But there are other underlying causes of blurry vision that have nothing to do with the strength of your eyes.
Although anxiety is not a common cause of blurred vision, there may be a link between anxiety and blurred vision. In order to understand why anxiety can cause blurred vision, it is important to first understand what is going on in the body when you become anxious.
When you become anxious, a response known as a fight, flight, or freeze response is triggered.
During this response, the body undergoes a variety of physiological changes due to the release of two primary stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, etc.
In general, your vision becomes sharper when you are anxious rather than more blurry. This is because the stress response improves your vision to help you identify threats more easily.
But there can be several reasons why some people experience blurry vision when they are anxious. When your stress response kicks in, your heart begins to race, your blood pressure rises, and your movements may become faster when looking for threats.
If you are moving faster than usual, you may notice that it is difficult to focus on the things around you. Difficulty focusing on your surroundings can often trigger the illusion of blurred vision.
Dry eyes are a well-known cause of blurry vision, so it is possible that anxiety indirectly causes blurred vision associated with dry eye. But this symptom is more common in people with chronic anxiety and stress than acute anxiety.
Other long-term anxiety symptoms can be indirectly related to changes in vision.
For example, people with frequent anxiety may find it difficult to provide for themselves, such as drinking enough water or eating enough. Not being able to meet our basic needs can lead to problems like dehydration, another common cause of blurry vision.
In people with anxiety disorders, chronic anxiety can also be linked to other chronic health conditions that can impact vision.
For example, long-term anxiety can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to a condition called hypertensive retinopathy. Retinopathy and other chronic health conditions that can be associated with anxiety can also cause blurred vision.
But even though these links can potentially be made between anxiety and blurred vision, it is still rare for anxiety to be a primary cause of blurred vision. In fact, there has been only one research article published recently on the potential link between anxiety and visual illnesses.
The results of the study found that higher anxiety levels were associated with an increased risk of conditions like glaucoma and dry eye syndrome, both of which can cause blurred vision. According to the researchers, this could be linked to the impact of stress on the vascular system.
Ultimately, while anxiety can cause blurry vision in some people, most of the evidence to support this link is anecdotal and more research is still needed.
Dizziness, which includes symptoms such as lightheadedness or lightheadedness, has many underlying causes, including anxiety. In the same way that anxiety can affect vision, adrenaline and cortisol released by the sympathetic nervous system can also have a direct impact on the vestibular system.
Vestibular problems are one of the main causes of lightheadedness, vertigo, and other symptoms of dizziness. When stress hormones are released, they can influence the balance of cells in the vestibular system, causing these symptoms.
Interestingly, dizziness can also cause problems with visual concentration, which can lead to a feeling of blurry vision.
Anxiety triggers the release of several stress hormones, causing a wide variety of symptoms, including visual symptoms. Although visual symptoms differ from person to person, anxiety can also cause:
Some of these visual symptoms, such as tunnel vision and sensitivity to light, may be more likely to appear during episodes of acute anxiety, such as a panic attack. But many of these symptoms, like eye strain and eye twitching, are more likely associated with the long-term effects of excess stress and anxiety.
Although some level of anxiety is normal and necessary in everyday life, anxiety can sometimes become chronic and intrusive. Anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults in the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Treatments for anxiety
If you have an anxiety disorder, treatment is the most important step in helping you regain your well-being. Common treatment options for anxiety disorders include:
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective interventions for mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered the gold standard treatment option for anxiety disorders. It helps to deal with the underlying thoughts, behaviors and feelings related to anxiety.
Medication is another effective intervention for people living with chronic anxiety. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are two of the most commonly prescribed long-term medications for anxiety disorders.
Short-term medications, such as benzodiazepines, may be prescribed for quick-acting relief. But these drugs carry a potential risk of addiction.
Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to reduce daily stress for people with anxiety disorders. According to research, even as little as 150 minutes of exercise per week can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Not only that, but activities that focus on relaxation and mindfulness, like yoga or meditation, can be a great way to reduce the daily impact of stress.
In many cases, blurred vision is caused by limited visual conditions in the eyes. But there are other underlying health issues that can cause blurry vision as a symptom as well. Potential causes of blurred vision can include:
If you’ve recently noticed that it is getting harder and harder to see due to blurred vision, it’s important to make an appointment with a doctor or eye doctor right away.
Although anxiety is known to cause a wide range of physical symptoms, blurred vision is generally not considered a common symptom of anxiety. But some people may have vision that seems blurry when they become anxious.
Other people may also experience blurry vision as a symptom of another condition associated with their anxiety. Studies on the link between these two conditions are limited, so more research is needed.
If you are concerned about your anxiety level, help is available. If you have blurred vision, it is important to contact your doctor for an official diagnosis.