The negative impact of internal and external stress on your vision is discussed by a Sam’s Club Optometrist.

The demands of the modern world make it difficult to avoid the impact of stress in our lives. But can this stress affect your vision? Can problems with your vision create stress? The answer to both questions is yes.

Direct effects of stress on vision and the eye

Myokymia, or eyelid twitch, is a very common response to stress. The lid muscle will abruptly begin to spasm, and this can linger on and off for hours or days. Severe cases can be treated with botulinum injections to temporarily paralyze the twitching muscle, but fortunately the condition is usually self-limited, meaning that it clears on its own within a few days.

Migraine headaches can be triggered by stress, and often these migraines present with a visual distortion, or aura. A visual migraine will have only the vision aura with no associated headache.

A longer-lasting condition, central serious retinopathy is a fluid leak into the retina that causes distortion of the central vision. The effects of this condition on high-stress individuals can last for weeks or even months. Although usually self-limited, the leakage may require a laser treatment to seal it. While many of the direct effects of stress on the eye will reverse on their own, a comprehensive eye evaluation by your optometrist can confirm the diagnosis, rule out more serious problems and allow for any necessary treatments.

External factors on the eye that create visual stress

We know that stress can directly affect the eyes, but what external conditions can cause us vision stress? Long hours of computer work, reading, video games or other near-point tasks can create vision problems. Symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, eye pain, losing your place when reading or complete double vision. Eye muscle imbalance and focusing problems are often the source of near-vision stress. Even if you have 20/20 vision, your eyes may not be working together as a pair. A comprehensive eye examination can detect any focusing or muscle anomaly, and eye exercises or corrective lenses (contacts or glasses) can significantly reduce eyestrain.

Proper fitting and adjustment of glasses particularly no-line or progressive multi-focalsis critical in avoiding near point stress. Your glasses should be adjusted regularly to ensure optimum performance. A second occupational pair of glasses may be appropriate to improve your visual efficiency. This may include a reading- or computer-use prescription lens; polarized Rx sunglasses or Rx safety lenses can make a particular task more efficient and less stressful. Proper ergonomic position at the computer with a comfortable chair, upright posture and a slight downward gaze to the monitor helps eliminate fatigue at the end of the day.

We cant eliminate all stress in our lives, but we can try to manage it with proper rest, nutrition and exercise. Don’t wait until vision problems arise before seeing your eye doctor. Make sure you inform your optometrist about even minor symptoms of eyestrain.

Do you have an experience at the Sams Club Optical Center you would like to share? Send us comments or feedback at, or write to us at: Healthy Living Made Simple, 1703 Phyllis St., Suite 202, Bentonville, AR 72712.