We live in a society where it’s hard to stop for a second. Every day we have to deal with meetings at work, take the children to school, clean up before a visit comes… situations that force us to be quick and active.
In addition to all this, and especially in the area of study and office work, we have to use devices such as computers or mobile phones to keep us informed and to be able to carry out our tasks. Lights, along with other stressors, are elements that contribute to the development of diseases and infections in our visual organs.
In this article we will see how stress affects the eyes , some associated disorders and tips to prevent them from occurring.
How does stress affect the eyes?
The eyes are very sensitive organs. They require constant hydration and powerful lights can damage them. In addition, particles such as sand or dust can easily irritate them and cause discomfort.
Everyday problems mean that the eyes can develop a physiological response intended to warn us that something is wrong . If we ignore this warning, the problems can become chronic.
Let’s look at some of the eye problems associated with high levels of stress that often cause discomfort.
Eye problems with stress
Listed below are some of the visual problems caused by high levels of stress.
1. Eye tremors
Also called tics or, in the more professional field, myochemias. These tics usually affect the lower and sometimes the upper eyelid.
These are involuntary movements of muscle fibres around the eyes , specifically the Müller muscle, which is responsible for lifting the eyelid.
Normally, these movements can be controlled, but in situations of stress they occur spontaneously. Tic episodes can have a variable duration, ranging from days to weeks.
The causes of myochymias can be chemical in origin, such as the use of stimulants like caffeine or the abuse of tobacco and alcohol. A disorganized life can also lead to eye tremors, such as irregular dreaming patterns.
2. Eye inflammation
This is another of the most common consequences of stress. One of the causes of this type of problem is maculopathy or central serous choroidopathy , which consists of the inflammation of the central part of the retina.
Eye inflammations can occur due to hormonal and biochemical imbalances , causing the vessels that supply the eyes to become inflamed and lose their waterproofing. The fluid is occupying the space between the retina and the choroid. This causes the macula to be affected, which is a part of the retina that allows you to see clearly. As a result, a kind of stain is seen in the centre that prevents small details from being discerned.
This type of inflammation can lead to loss of vision in the most severe cases, although usually only causes blurred vision and difficulty in reading , and is resolved after some time.
3. Visual Fatigue
Also called asthenopia, it is the tiredness that our eyes suffer from the stress of everyday life . It can be caused by spending many hours in front of devices with screens, and causes such ailments as headaches, blurred or double vision and difficulties in reading.
Because of this, eyestrain is one of the most common stress-related problems among secretaries, office workers, researchers and writers, among other professions that spend much of their work using computers.
Visual fatigue should not be confused with eyestrain , which is an age-related deterioration of visual acuity.
4. Inflammation of the eyelids
Also called blepharitis. It is usually caused by environmental dryness, which usually occurs when you are subjected to air conditioning for long periods of time or in front of screens.
This type of problem involves itching, a sandy feeling in the eyes, irritation, redness and burning.
5. Stress Amaurosis
This is a sudden loss of vision. It usually occurs in people who already have a family history of this disease, but there are also cases where it appears due to a prolonged period of high stress.
Tips for treating and preventing problems
As we have seen, stress can have serious consequences for our eye health. This is why we will look at some tips to avoid developing these problems or to treat them if they do occur .
1. Relaxation and rest techniques
Stress is the result of a life that demands a frantic pace. A good way to reduce the problems it brings is to use relaxation techniques.
Yoga, meditation, mindfulness or something as simple as taking a deep breath can be some of the methods that help avoid health problems in the eyes as well as in the rest of the body.
It is also important to find a moment to rest your eyes . Turn off the computer and close your eyes for about five minutes, let them have a rest. That way they will be properly hydrated and not be so pressed.
2. Use glasses or lenses
When you suffer from a chronic eye problem, such as astigmatism or myopia, it is highly contraindicated not to use glasses and lenses.
If we see badly we will force our eyes, which will imply generating stress in the eyes , in addition to being able to produce dizziness and sensitivity to light. Glasses were invented so that we could see well, let’s use them, that’s what they are for.
With regard to contact lenses, care must be taken. We must ensure that it is the best method available, as there are some people whose eyes are very sensitive to lenses, causing them irritation and discomfort.
3. Changing habits
Our body is a temple, and for that reason we must take care of it. A correct diet, the practice of sports frequently and maintaining a positive attitude towards life are aspects that help us to have an optimum state of health.
Another healthy habit is to try to avoid using screened devices such as televisions, computers or mobile phones, especially at night. The lights that these devices emit can be very harmful to our sight if we constantly submit to them.
A more organized lifestyle will prevent us from suffering situations of uncertainty, which will generate stress and nervousness.
It is also recommended to work in environments where there is natural light, which is less of a problem than artificial lights, which tend to be more aggressive to the eyes, especially those with blue tones.
4. Eyelid massage
Some stress-related eye problems, such as tremors, are solved by massaging around the eyes. In this way the blood supply is facilitated, as well as calming the area by means of tactile stimulation.
5. Use of eye drops and eye medications
In cases where it is necessary, as in blepharitis, it is advisable to use eye drops, whenever a professional indicates it and according to his/her guidelines .
There are also ointments that are used to hydrate the eyelids and eyeball, as well as to deal with bacterial infections.
6. Seeing a specialist
If you have already developed a vision problem, the best thing to do is to see an ophthalmologist.
However, it will also be necessary to consult other professionals in case the origin is stress , such as a psychologist, since he will find out what produces this problem and will give us methods to find a solution to it.
- Lamphar, H. (2006). Ergoftalmology: Analysis of the Factors that Influence the Asthenopia of Visual Inspection Workers in the Electronic Industry of Ciudad Juárez. Science & Work, 21, 135-140.
- Rodríguez, A. E., Ferrer, C. and Alió, J. L. (2005). Demodex and Chronic Blepharitis. Archives of the Spanish Society of Ophthalmology. 80(11).