Everyone can agree that 2020 has not worked out to be what anyone had in mind for the start of a new decade. This year has been extremely stressful, causing increasing levels of anxiety that in turn clouds our mental health. Understanding how stress and anxiety impacts our vision and eye health is important.
When your stress and anxiety levels rise, the body naturally goes into “fight or flight” mode to help protect you. This means that your adrenaline levels increase, causing your heart to start pounding, informing your brain that more blood is directed to your organs than your extremities. This is helpful where there are physical dangers present as it causes your pupils to dilate to let in more light for you to see the threat better. In non-physical situations, such as stress and anxiety, your pupils stay dilated for extended periods of time, causing them to be sensitive to light.i Stress also causes your body muscles to tense up, as do the muscles around the eyes, causing them to ache and twitch.
The Long-Term Effects on Your Vision
Most eye problems related to stress and anxiety are temporary, lasting less than an hour. If they do persist, you should consult with your eye doctor. However, prolonged stress can cause new eye conditions, worsen existing eye disorders and can lead to vision loss.ii According to research published in the EPMA Journal, ongoing psychological stress with elevated levels of cortisol disrupt blood flow to the eye and brain becoming risk factors in the development and progression of deteriorating vision. Another study published in the academic journal Applied Ergonomics draws a link between stress and glaucoma. It shows that prolonged stress coupled with increased intraocular pressure (the fluid pressure inside your eyes) together can be a contributing factor in causing glaucoma.iii
Anxiety is like being in a constant state of fear, panic and worry. Depending on the level of severity, it can be hard to lead a “normal” life. For some patients who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, their symptoms may be caused by vision misalignment. This can be brought on by visual over stimulation of your environments such large crowds, patterned floors or wallpaper, high ceilings and even freeways. Blurry or double vision that causes dizziness and imbalance when walking are other symptoms of vision misalignment, that could result in Binocular Vision Dysfunction.iv By correcting your vision misaligned it allows your eyes to see accurately and clearly which can reduce or eliminate your anxiety.
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How-to Relieve Stress
Everyone handles stress differently both mentally and physically. Most experts recommend that the best ways to handle stress are to exercise, get 8 hours of sleep every night, eat healthy, meditation, spending time outdoors, breathing exercises, therapy or a day at the spa.
One Indianapolis optician who is passionate about eye health has created her very own, successful “eye spa”. If this is the first time you are hearing of such a business, you are not alone. Chalant Eye Spa is one of the only spas that specializes in treatments for your eyes. Dora Grant, CEO & founder explains how we work our eyes from the moment we wake up till the time we go to bed, without a break. The amount of strain we place on our eyes on a daily basis is constantly overlooked. With uninterrupted, extended periods of time spent on our digital devices, it is no wonder that digital eye strain is on the rise.
The combination of digital eye strain, anxiety and stress is a scary mix. Most of us are aware that it is recommended to give your eyes a break from the computer or digital screens every two hours, however, rarely do we comply. What other options can we look at that are more suited to our work and lifestyles. The spa offers a variety of eye treatments for digital eye strain relief, dry eye relief, and puffy eye treatment, including proprietary eye serum and gel, that are made from natural and organic ingredients. One of the unique services offered is “eye yoga” (a service available through telehealth) which helps the eyes relax and aids in reducing the effects of eye strain. Certified eye yoga therapists perform 5 exercises that help with relaxation, concentration, calming the mind and most importantly give your eyes a much-needed break.
It is important to listen to your body, especially during times that can elevate your anxiety and stress levels. Follow your body’s signals and find ways to relax, calm your mind and disconnect from digital screens to help alleviate the symptoms that are causing your levels to rise. This will help keep your mental health in balance and the strain off your eyes.
Optician turned entrepreneur, Dora Grant is the Founder and CEO of Chalant Eye Spa, has gained tremendous insight during her career in the optical industry that spans over 7 years. Her passion for eye health inspired her to launch the eye spa in 2015 to better serve her clients and the global eyewear industry.