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Types of Visual Problems and Anxiety

Wendy M Yoder, Ph.D.
Types of Visual Problems and Anxiety

There are many types of vision problems that can be connected with anxiety. If you find it difficult to see clearly, notice flashes or visual snow, or feel like lights become too bright when you are anxious, it doesn't necessarily mean there is something wrong with your eyes: these can be part of the body's natural anxiety response (as inconvenient as they may be). In situations where fear is called for, they can actually help you, which is one reason to feel less anxious about your visual problems.

This article will discuss the various types of visual problems that can be associated with anxiety, why they occur, and how to prevent them.

Visual Problems Associated With Anxiety

If you experience any of these visual problems during your anxiety attacks, you are not alone. Many people experience visual problems when they suffer from profound anxiety. 

WHAT TO DO: A short term fix for light sensitivity are sunglasses, and some eye drops that are designed to decrease light sensitivity in the short term. However, it may be easier just to wait until the symptom passes, as lying down in a dimly lit room will both be easy on your eyes and may help you to relax.

WHAT TO DO: Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while experiencing this symptom, as it is similar to a symptom of drunkenness and keeps you from getting all the visual information you need to operate safely.

WHAT TO DO: The only way to really cure tunnel vision (if it is being temporarily caused by anxiety and not by a larger problem) is to relax. Don't try to fight the problem, and try not to panic about it: it is, after all, a temporary problem, and will fade after a few minutes.

WHAT TO DO: If you experience visual snow exclusively as an accompaniment to anxiety, the best thing to do is to remember that it is a harmless side effect and not a sign of anything worse. If, however, you are experiencing persistent visual snow that does not often abate, talk to your doctor to be sure your eyes are healthy and there are no other underlying problems.

WHAT TO DO: Be considerate of your body and give it a moment to relax. It is best to sit down or lie down while the flashes last to encourage your heart rate to return to normal, and to avoid hurting yourself due to impaired vision.

Feeling like your body is malfunctioning can be hard to handle, and unexpected visual changes can actually have the effect of increasing anxiety if you don't know what's going on or how to fix it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep from experiencing the anxiety attacks that lead to these visual problems.

How to Prevent Visual Problems Caused By Anxiety

Preventing visual problems caused by anxiety is usually a matter of preventing the anxiety itself. However, there are also things you'll want to avoid during your anxiety attack to decrease the likelihood of these symptoms occurring.

It can be hard to cope with visual problems when you are already experiencing the other mental and physical effects of anxiety, but knowing that you are not alone and taking preventative steps can help to stop visual problems before they start and make your anxiety more manageable.

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