Stress plays a major role in our lives and can have a negative impact on our physical well-being and health and even be hard on our eyes. If you are experiencing extreme stress and vision issues, you may be experiencing retinal detachment or other damage to the retina.

Stress and the Retina

The retina is one of the most important structures in the eye since it converts what you see to send electrical impulses to your brain. Chronic stress plays an indirect role on the health of the retina. Older patients who have certain vascular health conditions, such as higher blood pressure, are already at a higher risk for retinal conditions such as retinal vein occlusion or age-related macular degeneration. Chronic stress can exacerbate these conditions so it increases the likelihood of a retinal problem developing. For those who are diabetic, prolonged stress can affect blood sugar levels and lead to diabetic retinopathy.

Stress and Retinal Detachment

Stress can’t cause retinal detachment since a retinal detachment is caused due to tears in the peripheral retina. It can happen at any age but it’s more common in people over the age of 40. Risk factors for retinal detachment include being extremely nearsighted, having previous retinal detachment in the other eye, a family history of the issue, having had an eye injury, having had cataract surgery or other eye disorder, or diseases. When retinal detachment happens, patients start to notice dark shadows in the corner of the visual field. As it progresses, total vision loss can happen. Retinal detachment is a serious condition and you need urgent treatment if you want to avoid permanent vision loss.

Stress and Eye Strain

Even though stress can’t cause retinal detachment, it can be harmful to your eye health in other ways. In addition to cortisol during times of stress, the body also produces epinephrine or adrenaline. This causes the pupils to dilate so you are able to see the world more clearly and be protected from danger. Being stressed all the time results in a constant dilation of your pupils and can lead to eye strain. Symptoms of stress-induced eye strain include reduction of peripheral vision, blurred vision, dry eyes, sensitivity to light, and twitching in the eyes.

Central Serous Chorioretinopathy

Stress can also play a role in your vision. It can cause a condition named central serous chorioretinopathy, also referred to as CSC. This is when fluid gathers under the retina. It is one of the many eye diseases that can cause fluid buildup in the retina. It’s common in middle age and young adults. Vision loss associated with CSC is temporary but it can be chronic or recurrent.

The most common symptom of CSC is blurry central vision. This will often occur in one eye, but after examination, it will also reveal in the other eye as well. Depending on the amount and location of the fluid, the disease may show no symptoms, especially if the affected area is outside the macula. The macula is the part of the retina that is used to see fine details for activities such as recognizing faces or reading. No one fully understands the cause of CSC but it’s thought that exposure to a corticosteroid drug can worsen the condition. Corticosteroids are typically found in anti-inflammatory creams or nose sprays. However, there is an association that has been made with emotional distress and CSC. Since the body produces natural corticosteroids during stressful times, it can trigger the condition. Patients with heart disease, a current or recent pregnancy, or high blood pressure can also be at a higher risk.

An eye doctor will dilate your eyes and get images of the retina in order to diagnose this condition. A fluorescein angiography can be helpful for the diagnosis of the disease. The test involves a dye being injected into the arm and then photographs are taken to check for leakage. It shows any swelling, leaking, and bleeding in either eye.

There are different treatments, including oral medications, ocular injections, and laser treatments. Depending on the timeline of symptoms and severity of the condition, your eye doctor can choose the best treatment. Early detection is helpful in order to prevent permanent vision loss.

Stress and Reduced Eye Circulation

Stress can also lead to reduced eye circulation. The eyes need more energy to help manage stress until balance is restored in the body. If the eyes don’t have enough nutrient supply then the eye tissue can be damaged and this can lead to vision problems.

Stress and Tunnel Vision

Stress can cause tunnel vision and this impacts your eye health in a few different ways. Tunneled vision can damage the retina over time since you are using a smaller area of the retina. The area becomes damaged because of the overuse. It also speeds up glaucoma damage. It can decorate depth perception. When you have reduced depth perception, it reduces the stability of your balance and causes you to have poor night vision.

Ways to Reduce Stress for Eye Health

Reducing your stress is not only important for eye health but your overall health and well-being as well. If you are feeling stressed out, taking some time to unwind is important. Consider yoga, meditation, exercise, or deep breathing routines to help reduce stress. If you are able to isolate the issue that is causing your stress, you can try and resolve the problem. Other ways to destress include going for a walk, talking with a family member or friend, listening to white noise or calming music, or taking a warm bath. Work on improving your quality of sleep. When you are going through periods of stress, sleep is greatly impacted. If you don’t sleep then the body isn’t able to recharge and you will have lower energy. Lack of sleep has also been known to hinder your ability to deal with stress and it also leads to lower willpower when it comes to making healthy decisions. Without sleep, you may be avoiding exercise or overeating, which can also compound stress.

Contact Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute

Whether or not you are experiencing chronic stress, it’s important to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams in order to treat any eye conditions early, before they lead to more permanent eye damage. If you are experiencing symptoms of retinal detachment, seek medical treatment right away. The doctors at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute are here for your eye care using advanced technology. Contact us today!