Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling that we all experience. It can be accompanied by symptoms such as sweating, a speedy heart rate, and if the feeling is intense enough, some believe that it can cause blurred vision1,2.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether anxiety can cause blurred vision, other possible causes for blurred vision, and how you can fix the problem. We’ll also explore some of the ways that stress and anxiety can affect your eyes.

How stress and anxiety can affect your eyes

When you’re feeling extremely anxious, stressed, or having a panic attack, your body produces adrenaline as part of your “fight or flight” response, preparing you to either fight the danger in front of you, or run away from it. This puts pressure on your eyes, which can cause tunnel vision, floaters, flashes of light, and possibly blurred vision (although there isn’t enough evidence to confirm this). Your eyes may also become sensitive to light, feel strained, start twitching, or become extremely dry or wet2.  Finally, severe anxiety can make you feel dizzy, which may make you feel like your vision has become blurred.

In the long term, when extreme stress and anxiety happens frequently, your body’s heightened cortisol levels can cause glaucoma and optic neuropathy, which can lead to blindness3. 

Our bodies are complicated, which can make it difficult to find the cause of a symptom, including sudden blurred vision. If you’re prone to extreme anxiety, and are experiencing common symptoms of anxiety such as an elevated heart rate, sweating, and not being able to concentrate, your blurry vision may be caused by your anxiety. But this is a big may. It’s important to know that sudden blurred vision can be caused by other issues, and isn’t necessarily a result of severe anxiety. Here are some other common causes.

Common causes of blurred vision

What causes blurred vision? We can’t say with certainty that sudden blurry vision can be caused by anxiety, but there are a number of other medical conditions that definitely cause the issue. These include:

  • Stroke (including a transient ischemic attack)
  • Diabetes
  • Detached retina
  • Wet macular degeneration
  • Eye strain
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal abrasion
  • High blood sugar
  • Hyphema—a pooling of blood between the cornea and iris
  • Iritis—inflammation of your iris
  • Keratitis—inflammation of your cornea
  • Optic neuritis—inflammation of your optic nerve. Can be caused by multiple sclerosis.
  • Temporal arteritis—inflammation of your temporal arteries
  • Uveitis—inflammation of your eye wall. Can be caused by psoriasis.
  • Macular hole
  • Migraine
  • Preeclampsia—a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure
  • Brain tumour
  • Parkinson’s Disease

How to fix blurred vision

As with any medical complaint, sudden blurred vision can only be accurately diagnosed by a medical professional. If your eyes are suddenly going blurry, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor. Some of the causes of sudden blurred vision can be serious, so self-diagnosing isn’t a good idea.

References

  1. Jerry Kennard, 2018, Anxiety and Vision Problems – Symptoms – Anxiety, HealthCentral
  2. How Does Stress Affect Your Eyes, Whitby & Co
  3. Ana Sandoiu, 2018, Persistent stress may lead to vision loss, study shows, MedicalNewsToday