Experiencing anxiety can be both mentally and physically exhausting, often leading to a variety of symptoms that can be confusing and unsettling. Among these, blurred vision and dizziness are common but less talked about.

Many people wonder if anxiety can cause these symptoms and what can be done about them. In this guide, we’ll explore the connection between anxiety, blurred vision, and dizziness and provide insights into why these symptoms occur and how to manage them. 

Can anxiety make your vision blurred?

Yes, anxiety might cause blurred vision due to several physiological responses and medication side effects.

Physiological responses

Anxiety triggers specific physical changes in the body that can lead to vision issues:

Chronic anxiety effects

Prolonged anxiety can have lasting effects on your eyes and vision:

  • Eye strain and dry eyes: Prolonged anxiety increases cortisol levels, potentially raising intraocular pressure and worsening conditions like glaucoma, leading to vision problems. Stress hormones can also cause eye strain and dry eyes.
  • Increased intraocular pressure: The stress from chronic anxiety can elevate intraocular pressure, which may worsen conditions like glaucoma, potentially leading to more serious vision impairment.

Medication side effects

Medications prescribed for anxiety can also contribute to vision problems:

  • SSRIs and SNRIs: These medications for anxiety can cause side effects such as dry eyes and blurred vision by affecting eye muscles and pupil function. The increased serotonin levels from these medications can relax the eye muscles, making focusing difficult.
  • Visual discomfort: Some anxiety medications can lead to pupil dilation and difficulty focusing up close, resulting in blurred vision or vision loss.

Can anxiety affect your vision in other ways?

Stress and anxiety can affect your vision in various ways beyond just causing blurry vision. Here’s are ways this can happen:

Light sensitivity

Anxiety disorder can make your eyes more sensitive to light, a condition known as photophobia. This increased sensitivity can cause discomfort when exposed to bright lights, making it difficult to see clearly in well-lit environments.

Visual distortions

Anxiety can lead to several types of visual distortions:

  • Seeing stars or flashes: During high anxiety, you might see stars, flashing lights, or floaters. These visual disturbances are usually harmless but can be unsettling.
  • Tunnel vision: Anxiety can trigger the “fight or flight” response, which can reduce your peripheral vision. This effect, known as tunnel vision, narrows your field of view and can disorient you.

Eye strain and dry eyes

Chronic anxiety often results in prolonged eye strain and dry eyes:

  • Eye strain: Stress can cause your eyes to feel tired and achy, especially if you spend long periods focusing on a single task, like reading or using a computer.
  • Dry eyes: Anxiety can reduce tear production, leading to dryness and discomfort in the eyes, which can feel gritty or sore.

Increased eye pressure

Anxiety can sometimes lead to an increase in intraocular pressure. This can affect your eyes by worsening some eye diseases like glaucoma. Symptoms of increased eye pressure include headaches, eye pain, and seeing halos around lights. Persistent high pressure can be damaging if not managed properly.

How to know if your blurred vision is caused by anxiety

Determining whether your blurred vision is caused by anxiety involves looking at the context of your symptoms and ruling out other potential causes. Here are some key indicators to help you understand if anxiety might be the culprit:

Context and timing of symptoms

Understanding the timing and context of your symptoms can provide clues:

  • Anxiety episodes: Notice if your blurred vision occurs during or after episodes of high anxiety, stress, or panic attacks. If the vision issues correlate with these times, anxiety is likely a contributing factor.
  • Symptom fluctuation: Anxiety-induced blurred vision often comes and goes with the intensity of your anxiety. If your vision clears up as you calm down, anxiety is a likely cause.
  • Specific triggers: Identify if specific anxiety triggers (like public speaking or crowded places) are consistently followed by blurred vision.

Accompanying symptoms

Blurred vision caused by anxiety is often accompanied by other anxiety symptoms. Look for these signs:

  • Physical symptoms of anxiety: Blurred vision from anxiety is often accompanied by other anxiety symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, and a feeling of impending doom.
  • Eye symptoms: Check for additional eye-related symptoms, such as dryness, strain, or increased sensitivity to light, which can also be linked to anxiety.
  • Muscle tension: Notice if you experience muscle tension, especially around the eyes and forehead. 

Medical evaluation

Consulting with a healthcare provider can help rule out other potential causes:

  • Rule out other conditions: Visit an eye care professional to rule out other causes of blurred vision, such as refractive errors, glaucoma, or cataracts. A comprehensive eye exam can help determine if there are any underlying eye health issues.
  • Health history: Share your anxiety symptoms and history with your healthcare provider. They can help connect the dots between your anxiety and vision issues and may recommend seeing a mental health professional.
  • Physical examination: A physical examination can help identify other health issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, that might be contributing to vision problems.

Personal observation and documentation

Tracking your symptoms and responses can provide valuable insights:

  • Symptom tracking: Record when your blurred vision occurs, noting the time, duration, and preceding anxiety triggers. This can help you and your healthcare provider identify patterns and correlations.
  • Relaxation response: Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. If these methods reduce both your anxiety and blurred vision, it suggests a strong link between the two.
  • Lifestyle factors: Observe if lifestyle factors like sleep, diet, and hydration levels impact your vision, as these can interact with anxiety symptoms.

How to cope with anxiety & vision changes

Coping with anxiety and its effects on vision involves a combination of strategies aimed at managing anxiety and addressing vision changes directly. 

Managing anxiety

Reducing anxiety is the first step in alleviating its impact on your vision. Here are some ways to go about it:

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help calm your mind and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Regular exercise: Physical activity can help manage anxiety by releasing endorphins, improving mood, and reducing stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
  • Healthy lifestyle choices: Ensure you sleep well, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen anxiety symptoms.

Addressing vision changes

Taking steps to address vision changes directly can also help:

  • Eye care practices: Maintain good eye hygiene by taking regular breaks from screens, using adequate lighting, and practicing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds).
  • Use artificial tears: If you experience dry eyes, using over-the-counter artificial tears can relieve and improve comfort.
  • Regular eye check-ups: Schedule regular visits with an eye care professional to monitor your vision and ensure any changes are addressed promptly.

Seeking professional help

Sometimes, managing anxiety and vision changes requires professional intervention:

  • Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can be highly effective in managing anxiety. A therapist can help you develop coping strategies and address the underlying causes of your anxiety.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage anxiety. Speak with your healthcare provider about options such as SSRIs or benzodiazepines.
  • Integrated care: Working with a mental health professional and an eye doctor can provide a comprehensive approach to managing your symptoms.

Building a support system

Having a strong support network can make a significant difference:

  • Connect with others: Talk to friends, family, or support groups about your experiences. Sharing your challenges can provide emotional support and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Educational resources: Learn more about anxiety and its effects on vision. Understanding your condition can empower you to take proactive steps in managing it.

Final thoughts

Anxiety can cause blurred vision and dizziness, making life more challenging. Understanding how anxiety affects your vision and knowing how to manage these symptoms can improve your quality of life.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consider seeking professional help. Our anxiety treatment program in Arizona provides comprehensive support tailored to your needs. Contact us today to start your journey to better mental and physical health.

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