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"Could my blurry vision be stress-related?"

ZocdocAnswersCould my blurry vision be stress-related?


I occasionally suffer from blurry vision. Sometimes it clears after I blink a few times, and other times it lasts for a couple hours before clearing. I've had my vision tested, and my eyesight appears to be fine. No lenses were prescribed. I've noticed recently, however, that I have more instances of blurry vision when I am stressed out. Although the spells of blurry don't appear to be related to reading or using a computer, I wonder if it could be stress related.


Transient episodes of blurred vision can occur as a result of several different phenomenon, all of which should be followed up with your healthcare team. Lets start at the surface of the eye. Sometimes transient abnormalities in the tears and mucous production on the surface of the eye can cause visual clouding. This almost always clears rapidly and can be a result of debris like dust or irritants like eye-makeup entering the eye. It it sounds like you have already had an eye exam to rule out problems with the way light is focused on the retina of your eye, also called refractive problems, or problems with the retina itself. However, most of these types of problems that can be detected on a simple eye exam tend to produce constant rather than transient symptoms. The next category of problems that can cause temporary visual problems are abnormalities in blood flow. These are not common, and usually occur in patients that are older or who have other vascular risk factors like smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. If blood flow is temporarily interrupted to the retina of one eye or the part of the brain that processes vision, the result can be transient blurred vision or even transient blindness. These episodes rarely last more than 5 minutes and resolve completely, leaving no lasting visual deficit. Although uncommon, these blood flow problems are potentially serious and a sign of worse problems to come, so it is important to keep medical follow up appointments and continue reporting these symptoms to your primary care physician and ophthalmologist. Very rarely, seizures can cause temporary visual problems, but there are almost always other neurologic symptoms. Finally, you are correct in wondering whether these episodes can be stress related. Often stress can trigger headaches, which can sometimes even cause blurred vision. And stress itself is known to produce a wide variety of physical and mental symptoms, including episodes of blurred vision. If you continue to have these problems, do not ignore them. Continue to follow up with your healthcare team and report these symptoms as well as any new symptoms that develop.

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