Eye symptoms with anxiety are often very hard to handle. When something is wrong with your eyes you may feel dizzy or worry that there is a problem with your brain. Yet your eyes are often affected by anxiety symptoms, in ways that aren't always easy to understand.
This article will explore some of the eye symptoms from anxiety and discuss why they occur and what you can do to stay anxiety free.
Is Anxiety Affecting Your Eyes?
It's hard to believe that anxiety may be the cause of your eye problems, but if a doctor has already ruled out some of the most well-known eye issues, your anxiety may be to blame.
If you suspect it's anxiety or you know you have anxiety and are interested in learning how your anxiety compares to others, take our free 7 minute anxiety test for statistics on your anxiety and treatment recommendations.
The Many Causes of Affected Eyes
Many different components of anxiety can affect your eyes. That's why it's so important that you take my free 7 minute anxiety test if you haven't yet. The test is specifically designed to look at what kind of anxiety you're dealing with and give you a greater understanding of how to deal with it.
Eye problems are not necessarily a common symptom of anxiety, but they're not rare either. Most eye symptoms are temporary – lasting no more than an hour, and usually much less. Any long term eye problems should be checked out by an eye doctor.
There are many different ways that anxiety can affect your eyes. The most common ways are:
- Eye pain and discomfort.
- Mildly blurred vision.
- Watery eyes.
- Light sensitivity.
- Eye floaters (spots that float across your eye).
These are all most common during periods of intense anxiety, and the most common time to experience intense anxiety is during an anxiety attack.
How Anxiety Affects the Eyes
When you suffer from intense anxiety, two things happen to your eyes. First, your pupils dilate. When you fight or flight system is activated, your pupils dilate to make it easier to make quick decisions (in a fight, you need to be able to see a punch coming). This is what causes issues like light sensitivity and eye aches.
You also experience a tightening of the muscles in your face. This may constrict the blood vessels to the eyes and cause further eye pain, aches, or even some blurred vision.
Hyperventilation and Eye Problems
Hyperventilation is also a common problem for those living with anxiety, and hyperventilation may affect the eyes as well. Hyperventilation can also cause the blood vessels to constrict, and may lead to a feeling of lightheadedness and dizziness that make it seem as though your eyes are having problems, although technically it is a different symptom.
Overcoming Anxiety Affected Eyes
There are a lot of anxiety symptoms that you can learn to connect with and control. But your eye symptoms aren't usually one of them. All of the ways that anxiety affects the eyes are the direct result of adrenaline pumping through your body, and until that adrenaline goes away, it's nearly impossible to stop your eyes from reacting the way they do.
So you'll need to learn to control your anxiety in the moment and ultimately control your anxiety forever. While you're dealing with anxiety:
- Make sure you're breathing slowly. Over-breathing can cause you to hyperventilate, which may lead to further anxiety and further eye symptoms.
- Find a distraction. Distractions take you out of your mind and away from the thoughts that are causing you stress. They can even decrease the severity of your anxiety attacks.
- Exercise if you can. Some people's anxiety attacks are so severe that it's very hard to move. But those that can find the strength to go walking or running should do so, since that can burn away some of the adrenaline.
All of these strategies are only temporary, and are simply designed to overcome your attack faster so that your affected eyes start to relax. Some people also find closing their eyes to be helpful, since eye problems sometimes create their own anxiety.
But stopping anxiety attacks after they happen is not ideal. You'll still need to address your anxiety if you want to stop having eye problems altogether.
I've helped many people with eye issues overcome their anxiety. It starts with my free 7 minute anxiety test. The test is a great way to learn more about your anxiety and get recommendations for how to stop it forever.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.