How Anxiety Creates Double Vision

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

How Anxiety Creates Double Vision

Anxiety causes a lot of different symptoms that are unusual that may seem unrelated to anxiety. Some of those symptoms affect the eyes, and when they do they can make life a lot more distressing.

Double vision is one such vision problem, and it's somewhat of a complicated one. Not everyone sees double vision with anxiety, but many people do experience some types of vision problems, and unfortunately as long as you have anxiety these problems are bound to keep occurring.

Causes of Anxiety Double Vision

Most vision problems are the result of activation of the fight or flight system from anxiety, which is present with all types of anxiety disorders and all intensities of anxiety.

When you have anxiety, your body floods with adrenaline, which prepares your body the same way it would prepare you if you were about to face danger. One such way is by dilating your pupils so that you can take in more light and make faster movements. This doesn't necessarily cause double vision, but it can cause vision issues that some attribute to double vision.

However, this is not the only cause of double vision from anxiety. Other causes include:

  • Triggered Migraine Perhaps the most common is a migraine. Migraines are not generally caused by anxiety, but they can be triggered by anxiety. Those with stress tend to have more migraines than those without stress, and so you may be experiencing regular double vision as a result of this stress. Not all migraines have headaches either, so double vision may be one of the primary symptoms.
  • Hyperventilation Another symptom of anxiety that may cause double vision is hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is when you breathe too fast, and it can cause blood to stop flowing in your brain as efficiently. That constricts the blood vessels and can lead to vision problems, including double vision.

The Anxiety of Double Vision

It should be noted that double vision is associated with many different neurological diseases, which is why even though anxiety is a common cause, you should still see a doctor - especially if the double vision is chronic. Unfortunately, double vision is one of the main reasons that people fear for their brain health, believing they may have:

  • Brain Tumors
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lyme Disease

These fears and similar symptoms (all caused by anxiety) are sadly all too common. Unfortunately, since the symptoms are so similar the only way to know for sure how healthy you are is to see your doctor.

But know that your anxiety is also going to cause you to worry a great deal about your health, so don't be surprised if your doctor tells you you're fine. Similarly, while seeing a doctor may be valuable, it's often not enough to control the fear that something is seriously wrong. Health anxiety is extremely common in those living with anxiety disorders.

How to Stop Anxiety Double Vision

Once you're sure anxiety is causing your double vision, the only way to stop it is to address the anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety will continue to trigger the release of adrenaline, and there is no way to prevent eye dilation and related issues from occurring.

There are a few techniques you can try to reduce both the severity of your anxiety and the likelihood of double vision. These include:

  • Breathe Slower Do your best to slow down your breathing as much as possible. That will prevent the effects of hyperventilation. Fight the urge to take deep breaths, and instead take slow, controlled breaths that last about 13 to 15 seconds each.
  • Exercise Exercise is an anxiety reduction tool that doesn't necessarily have an effect on vision, but can provide some immediate relief for anxiety that could, in theory, reduce some of the double vision you suffer from immediately. While it's hard to run with balance issues, if you can get in some good exercise you should be able to find some relief from the symptoms.
  • Distract Your Senses Another effective strategy is to simply distract your senses and your mind from your symptoms. Double vision is often perceived because you're paying so much attention to your vision. Give yourself a break by turning on music, turning on the TV, talking to someone on the phone, and walking around. Make it much harder for yourself to focus on your anxiety symptoms, and your vision issues should soon follow.

Obviously none of these are anxiety cures, but they are ways to at least make your double vision bother you less. Then you can get started on implementing a proven anxiety reduction strategy.

Questions? Comments?

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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