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  • Dr. Sandra Chiu

Destress to Protect Your Eyes

Everyone knows what it’s like to experience stress - but few people know that stressful situations can also affect your eyes.

It sounds crazy, but it’s true! When stress ramps up - because of work, your personal life, or something else altogether - your body can release adrenaline, a hormone that is part of the body’s “fight or flight” response. As the adrenaline courses through your body, your pupils will often get bigger. (It’s a human adaptation that allows more light into your eyes, so you can see potential threats more clearly.)

During this time, pressure on your eyes increases, and blurry vision is often the result. When your stress level goes down, adrenaline levels typically drop. But if you’re constantly in “fight-or-flight” mode - meaning your adrenaline is always elevated - you could be experiencing visual symptoms throughout the day.

Here’s a list of some temporary effects stress can have on your vision:

  • Tunnel vision. Your ability to see things out of the corner of your eyes might diminish, and you’ll only be able to see things right in front of you.

  • Eye twitching. You might feel your eyelid “dance” or spasm all on its own. (Annoying!)

  • Sensitivity to light. Bright light, either from an outside source or an inside one, might hurt your eyes or make it hard to see things.

  • Eye floaters. Those blobs that run across your field of vision can appear or increase when you’re stressed out.

  • Dry or wet eyes. They sound like total opposites, but either symptom can happen when you’re in the middle of a difficult situation.

  • Eye strain. This aching feeling is often caused by external sources, like staring at your computer for hours at work. But stress is often a contributing factor, too.

So, the verdict’s in: Stress and good vision don’t mix. So what can you do about it? For most of us, it’s impossible to completely remove the stressors in our life.

Instead, try these tips that have been shown to help manage stress levels and to release the tension:

1. Move your body.

Sometimes it seems like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re stressed, but physical activity can help your body release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It can also help you focus on something other than your stressful situation.

Walk, jog, garden, swim, ride your bike - any movement will do!

2. Meditate.

Consider setting aside some time in your day to quiet down and put non-productive thoughts to the side. You can use guided meditations (many are found online), visualization, or any other form that works for you.

3. Breathe deep.

Most people take tiny, shallow breaths that can worsen anxiety. To correct this, place your hand over your belly. Take a long breath through your nose, letting the air go all the way down and feeling your midsection fill with air. Then breathe out through your nose, feeling your belly shrink. Repeat as many times as needed.

4. Take a bath.

Like exercise, warm baths are also endorphin-producing activities. They can also help lower your blood pressure and relieve pain. Add nice-smelling oil or bath salts for an additional sensory experience.

5. Journal.

Committing your thoughts to paper can help reduce stress by pinpointing specific things that are bothering you and triggers that help create stressful feelings in the first place. Plus, if you add some positive self-talk in there, you’ll have a reminder of what’s going well in your life.

Do you have vision concerns? Dr. Sandra Chiu provides an integrated approach in the Saugeen Shores area.

To book an appointment, call (519) 832-5000 or visit

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