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How Stress Affects Your Eyes

Chances are that you experience stress at some point in your day. Who doesn’t! But chronic stress can have serious, long-term negative effects on your body… and your eyes are no exception.

Stress stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ reflex that helps us determine a response to things that might be threatening. While our bodies are great, that natural reflex can’t distinguish between the prehistoric stressors, like tigers, that it was meant to protect us from and the current stressors of work commitments or family life. When we experience a stressful moment, the pupils of our eyes dilate to enhance vision. When we’re continually stressed our pupils stay dilated, which could lead to a number of problems.

What happens to our eyes when we’re stressed?

  • Eye strain: Eye strain is a common side-effect of looking at a computer screen for too long, but it is also caused by stress
  • Blurred vision: Mild cases of blurred vision can be caused by stress
  • Dry or watery eyes: Either symptom can be a result of stress, but which one you feel depends on how your body handles stress
  • Eye twitching: You might feel spasms in one (or both) eyes after prolonged periods of stress
  • Light sensitivity: If you find it difficult to see in bright light, or if it hurts your eyes
  • Eye floaters: Tiny spots swimming across your vision is a sign of stress

Stress impacts us all in different ways. One person could feel all of these symptoms, while the next only feels a few. But whether you experience them or not, the muscles that surround the eyes still become tense, which could lead to soreness or migraines.

How you can help your eyes when you’re stressed

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, you can use a few techniques to help de-stress. Exercising and deep breathing both help relieve tension by relaxing the body and calming the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response.

Visit your local Optical Express clinic if you’re noticing symptoms over a long period of time or you’re continuing to have problems.  With almost 130 clinics nationwide, we’re never far from home. Find your nearest Optical Express.

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