Anxiety eye symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

Vision changes have a number of causes, and before any change in vision is earmarked as a result of anxiety, it needs a thorough evaluation from an ophthalmologist or other physician to rule out more severe problems. If the cause is anxiety, the tests will help relieve any worry of a serious disorder. Anxiety causes problems in all areas of the body. Vision problems from anxiety are quite common, but other symptoms of malfunctioning at other sites on the body often accompany anxiety eye symptoms.


Anxiety overloads the nervous system and sends false information to the brain. There may be a physiological reason some people have anxiety disorders and others don't. Some of these reasons include a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetic predisposition or learnt behaviour. Whatever the cause, anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, come from amygdala stimulation. The amygdala is an almond-shaped area in the temporal lobes that creates arousal and emotional responses, and controls the response to fear and hormonal secretions.

Physical Causes

Anxiety doesn't result from just psychological stress, it also has some physical causes. Conditions like hyperthyroidism, pheochromocytoma, heart failure, hyperadrenocorticism, arrhythmia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma cause anxiety attacks also. That's why a thorough physical exam by a physician is important. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol also cause these attacks. Specific drugs may produce them. Street drugs like cocaine or prescription amphetamines, corticosteroids and even caffeine cause many of the same symptoms that you find in anxiety disorders.


Anxiety can cause several different visual problems. One of these is distorted vision that's foggy or blurred. Your eyes might appear red and be dry, watery or itchy. They may show sensitivity to light and even see flashing lights when you have them closed. Sometimes there are spots in your vision. You might feel that your depth perception is wrong or see things that aren't there. The visual appearance of stars flashes or black figures out of the corner of your eyes is common.

Accompanying Symptoms

It's difficult to tell whether the symptoms you have come from anxiety or are the result of a serious disease. Sometimes you'll have other symptoms of anxiety that help to identify it as the cause. Other anxiety symptoms include increased problems with allergies; back pain; paling of the skin or a bright red face; electrical shocks in the body; change in body temperature; skin involvement with itching, burning, prickling, numbing or crawling sensations; and pain in the chest. More symptoms include choking, exhaustion, chills, sugar cravings, a thick tongue or difficulty speaking, dizziness, hyperactivity, borderline passing out, flu-like symptoms, heart palpitations, change to the sex drive, clicking in the jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, shaking or twitching muscles, nausea, diarrhoea, shooting pains at various locations, night sweats, jumpiness, frequent urges to urinate, weight changes and weakness.


When your brain or body experiences stress, whether it's of a physical or psychological nature, it prepares for the fight or flight experience. The brain sends a message to the eyes to sharpen vision. If you were in real danger, this would help you see your enemy more clearly or find the best path to escape. Sometimes the message only goes to one eye and you have blurred vision. Sometimes the change is too dramatic or only occurs partially, causing spots and flashes. Increased blood flow to the eyes causes them to redden. Dilation of the pupils also causes visual sensitivity to light.


If you know the cause of your eye symptoms is anxiety, find ways to relieve the stress. Uncover the cause of stress and find ways to block it from your mind. Relaxation techniques, meditation and self-hypnosis are a few ways to lower your anxiety levels.


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