Stress is an unpleasant and largely unavoidable part of life. Work, relationships, finances and the overall state of the world are all big stressors for a lot of people. Stress can have a lot of unpleasant side effects on your health and wellbeing.

Many people get stress headaches, and excessive stress has also been linked to weight gain, but did you know that stress can also affect your vision?

What can stress do to vision?

Both chronic and acute stress can affect your eyes and vision. While everyone reacts to stress a little differently, the most common stress-related eye problems are the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dry Eyes
  • Eye twitching
  • Eye floaters
  • Eye strain

The reason your eyes might go a little wonky when you’re stressed has to do with the brain’s natural reaction to stressful situations. Biologically, we are programmed to respond to all threats as though they are physical: our brains pump out adrenaline, our heart rates increase, and we go into a “fight or flight” mode. Unfortunately, your brain can’t differentiate between the threat of a hungry predator and the more existential threat of a looming work deadline.

So stress can trick your brain into thinking you’re under immediate attack. Your muscles might tense, causing twitching and discomfort around your eyes. Your pupils will dilate (the logic behind this is that the more light you let into your eyes, the better you can see a potential threat), causing light sensitivity.

Usually the effects of stress are temporary and should resolve themselves. However, if any symptoms persist or greatly affect your daily life, then you should set up an appointment with an eye doctor.

Temporary fixes for eye strain problems

The proper way to deal with problems brought on from stress is to lower your stress levels. However, there are a few immediate solutions that amount to stress “bandaids”.

For eye strain, you can invest in a pair of anti-glare glasses that also filter blue light. These glasses will lessen the eye strain you experience while working on computers. You can also relieve the effects of light sensitivity by wearing 100 percent UV-resistant sunglasses. However, neither of these offers a permanent solution and you should focus on tackling your overall stress.

Healthy ways to handle stress and protect your vision

Stress can have a negative impact on all aspects of your health, not just your eyes, and some of the effects of chronic stress can be dangerous. There is no way to completely avoid stress in your life. Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your stress levels and deal with the impact of stress when it occurs.


Exercise releases endorphins, which are like a natural painkiller for the brain. Exercise helps you sleep better and reduces overall stress levels. Many people hit the gym when they feel stressed, but you can get an equal endorphin rush from a brisk walk or a short jog.

Eat healthy

Maintaining a balanced diet will keep your eyes healthy and help you avoid any permanent damage. You should strive to drink plenty of water to keep your eyes hydrated and take advantage of the eye-friendly nutrients in vegetables, fruits and whole grains while avoiding unhealthy, eye-damaging foods.

Get some sleep

Inadequate sleep leaves your eyes vulnerable. Strive for a solid 8 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can cause many of the same symptoms as overstress, such as weight gain, eye strain, and headaches.  


If you need immediate relief from stress, try closing your eyes for a brief meditation. Find someplace quiet where you can focus on breathing and clearing your thoughts. Even a short meditation of just five minutes can help you relieve stress, re-focus and feel better.

Lessen your workload

If you’re feeling chronically stressed, then you may need to adjust how much work you’re taking on. A vacation can help, as well. For many people, these two suggestions may be easier said than done, but remember that stress negatively affects your health, and may even shorten your lifespan. So try to make time for self-care if you can.

Keep up with eye exams

Stress can have some pretty nasty effects on your eyes, so it’s important that you maintain annual eye exams to catch any problems early. A comprehensive eye exam will give you a good idea of your overall eye health and areas where you may need to be careful. Plus, having an accurate prescription means you’re free to shop for cheap online glasses and save some money. Prescription eyeglasses from are custom-made for your eyes and come at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at a clinic.