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Can Anxiety Cause Blurred Vision?

It's amazing all of the ways that anxiety can affect your body. Some people find that anxiety causes them chest pains. Others find that anxiety makes their legs feel like jelly. Still others find that anxiety affects their vision.

Blurred vision is an anxiety symptom that tends to lead to further anxiety. It can be stressful to find that something appears wrong with your vision, and if you suffer from anxiety attacks, that stress can trigger panic episodes. Blurred vision may be a sign of anxiety, and in some cases anxiety may actually be caused by blurry vision.

Is Your Blurry Vision Anxiety?

Anxiety can overwhelm the senses, including the eyes, making it harder for your eyes to focus. This is especailly common during anxiety attacks. If you haven't done so yet, take our free 7 minute anxiety test to score your anxiety severity and learn ways to reduce it.

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Blurred Vision Due to Anxiety

Anxiety causes numerous changes to the way your body operates. Some of these changes affect the eye directly, while others eye symptoms are actually secondary symptoms to other anxiety-related problems.

Have you experienced any of these problems? Click here to take my 7 minute anxiety test – a free test that will explain your anxiety to you and give you ideas for treatment.

Causes of Blurry Vision

Blurry vision may happen at any moment when you suffer from anxiety, but they're most common during periods of intense anxiety brought on by panic attacks/anxiety attacks, or a response to a specific anxiety producing event (like a phobia).

There are two distinct issues that cause vision problems from anxiety. These are:

  • Pupil Dilation
  • Hyperventilation

Pupil dilation is a direct response of an overactive fight or flight system. When you have anxiety – especially an anxiety attack – your body reacts as though it is about to experience something profoundly dangerous (as if you encountered a lion). That triggers your nervous system to react.

One of these reactions is to dilate your pupils. The evolutionary goal of this is to help bring in more light so that you can successfully fight or flee with better vision. But more light doesn't necessarily make vision easier, so some type of blurred or problematic vision may result.

Another common cause of blurred vision is hyperventilation. Many people with anxiety – especially those that have anxiety attacks – find that they hyperventilate often, because their breathing has essentially changed in a way that causes breaths that are too fast. This causes you to breathe in too much air and breathe out too much carbon dioxide, and when your body is thrown off balance blurry vision is often the result.

Blurred Vision May Be A Symptom or a Trigger

When you're hyperventilating, blurry vision may actually worsen your anxiety symptoms. That's because those experience blurry vision may start to experience more anxiety as they worry about why their vision has changed. They may also notice their blurry vision more than someone without anxiety because those with anxiety attacks have a tendency to become over-sensitive to changes in their body.

Hyperventilation itself is also a known panic attack trigger. As you're hyperventilating and your eyes become blurry, you may start to experience a panic attack. That panic attack may cause you to hyperventilate further, which causes your vision to become more blurry.

Furthermore, every once in a while your eyes may be a bit blurry for no reason. Short term vision changes happen to everyone. But if you suffer from anxiety, you may unintentionally respond to those vision changes in a way that makes your anxiety worse, as they may trigger an anxiety attack or further anxiety.

How to Prevent Blurred Vision

You can't control your vision. If blurry vision occurs, you simply need to wait for your anxiety to calm down in order for your vision to return to normal. Closing your eyes for a while may help a little, since it will reduce how much you worry about your vision, but ultimately you'll simply need to wait out your anxiety until it gets better.

But you can prevent blurry vision by curing your anxiety and stopping your panic attacks. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great place to start, as it has shown itself to be effective at curing several different types of anxiety. You may also find that exercise helps a lot, since a calmer body tends to be less prone to anxiety attacks.

I've also helped thousands of people cure their anxiety as well. But the only way to do that is to know your anxiety symptoms. Take my free anxiety test to get started.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.

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