When most people think of anxiety or panic disorders, they think of the common symptoms: a racing heart, a fluttering feeling in the chest, and worry that just won't go away.  But perhaps surprisingly, anxiety and stress can cause vision problems as well.  Here's a closer look at some of the eye problems someone with anxiety might run into:

Dilated pupils or tunnel vision: Dilated pupils and tunnel vision are two of the many responses triggered by the fight-or-flight reflex.  When someone is scared or panicked, this reflex kicks in, preparing their body to properly assess and react to the situation.  As such, this response might be triggered during a bad panic attack, meaning someone having one might experience these associated vision changes.  However, they are usually temporary, like the panic attack itself.

Sensitivity to light: If you find it painful to look at a bright light, then you might have light sensitivity.  Light sensitivity often goes hand-in-hand with headaches, and headaches can be triggered by anxiety or by the lack of sleep that sometimes accompanies anxiety.

Hyperventilation: Many people who cope with anxiety are not new to hyperventilation.  Hyperventilation can cause dizziness, a tingling sensation in extremities, headache, and weakness.  Many of these symptoms can in turn affect your vision or cause pain near your eyes.  In this case, your vision itself is not having problems, but is still adversely affected.

Facial pain: Anxiety and panic attacks can cause the blood vessels in your face to constrict.  The result is eye pain or even blurred vision.

These are just a few of the eye and head problems you can experience that may have been kicked off by anxiety rather than an actual eye problem.

Eye disease or anxiety?

Eye disease and anxiety are both serious problems for different reasons.  If you suspect you may have one or both, your best bet is to schedule appointments with both your doctor and an Optometrist, or eye specialist.  A complete, thorough eye exam is not only recommended as an annual checkup, but also to rule out any potentially serious diseases that could be causing your eye problems.  Meanwhile, an exam by your regular doctor can rule out any physical causes of anxiety and help you to find the appropriate treatment.

Regardless of whether it's anxiety or eye disease that could be triggering your eye problems, having healthy vision is important not only for your physical health, but for your mental health as well.  So don't be afraid to get your eyes checked, ensuring healthy vision long into the future. For more information, talk to a professional like The Eye Depot.