Recent clinical trials and analyses have revealed that stress is not only a consequence but also a cause of vision loss as well. This discovery has led experts to suggest that clinicians must not add any more stress to their eye patients. Instead, they can help them find ways to reduce their anxiety and worry so that their vision is restored or alleviated. Ultimately, long periods of stress may result in a gamut of eye conditions or the worsening of the patient’s existing eye conditions.
Stress And Eyesight
“Some stress is unavoidable but if you can keep perspective then it can be a whole lot easier.” Gretchen Flores, MA LPC LCPC said. When an individual’s eyesight is lost, he will most likely experience stress from too much anxiety or worrying about his situation. For others, in more extreme conditions, the individual may present with depression or anti-social behaviors. This is the natural course of stress – that it is a consequence of an unpleasant experience. But what if the reverse happens? Is it possible? Can stress result in vision loss? The EPMA Journal recently published an article supporting this claim.
In the article, a group of psychologists explains how continuous stress can lead to vascular and sympathetic reactions in the nervous system due to the heightened levels of the hormone cortisol. Eventually, this will progress to affect the eyes and the brain, leading to eye conditions like optic neuropathy and glaucoma and, consequently, vision loss.
Stress As A Cause Of Eye Problems
“Long-term stress is linked to weight problems and cardiovascular issues,” says Jessica Harris, LCPC, LPC. But that is not all. Other studies and clinical trials have also come to conclude that indeed, stress does not only result in vision loss, but it also exacerbates an individual’s eye condition as well. Thus, it is not only a consequence but can also be an important cause of vision abnormalities that may result in macular degeneration, optic neuropathy, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Ways To Help Restore Vision
- Reducing the causes of stress through exercise can certainly help. Some patients have communicated with their ophthalmologists that there were lesser strain and pain in their eyes after doing a series of light exercises that helped them relax after the sessions. Other strategies, including meditation, massage, relaxation techniques, and psychological counseling, have also proven to improve eye health in many patients. All these should be used preventively and in conjunction with medications.
- Eye doctors are encouraged to instill optimism and positivity in their patients while they are consulting with them and providing them as much information that they need to be aware of their condition. Ophthalmologists from across the world agree to this suggestion, stating that the attitude and the approach of the consulting physician are critical in the improvement of the patient’s vision problem. A lot of doctors quickly conclude and inform their patients that they have a poor prognosis and that they only have to wait until they finally lose their vision soon.
“Neuroscientists have found that brain structure is altered by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression. Feelings of calm arise from time away from work and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under pressure.” –Shannon Torberg, PsyD, LP
Researchers, clinicians, and doctors admit that there should be more studies that need to be done to evaluate the efficiency of the specific stress reduction techniques that will help alleviate patients’ eye conditions or prevent complete vision loss if possible. About psychosomatic ophthalmology, more clinical trials are necessary to present a strong foundation in this field.