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Can Experiencing High Levels of Stress affect Glaucoma?

Stress does not cause glaucoma, but stress can affect you in various ways. We can’t always control the stressors in our lives, but we can control how the stress affects us.

Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress can affect the body in many ways. Stress can make shoulders tense, cause neck pain, and cause sleep problems. Stress can affect the functioning of all aspects of your body. We can’t always control the stressors in our lives, but we can control how the stressors in our lives affect us. It’s easier said than done, but it is important to do your best to minimize the way that stress affects your body.

I tell my patients with glaucoma that there are no studies that show a direct connection between stress and glaucoma. We know that stress does not cause glaucoma. However, if you have glaucoma then your optic nerve is not functioning at its best. When your body is stressed, the whole function of the body can be impaired. I tell my patients, if you haven’t been sleeping well or you have been under a lot of stress, the first place you may feel it is in your vision.

Take Good Care of Yourself

The quality of your vision may suffer if you are not taking care of yourself and you are stressed or exhausted. If your body is under a tremendous amount of stress and you have glaucoma, you may experience some temporary fluctuation in the quality of your vision. As far as we know, this impairment in the quality of your vision is not permanent.

Stress can affect the function of your optic nerve and stress can make your whole body ache. It can cause back aches if you have a weak back, it can make your knees ache if you have weak knees, and if you have dry eyes, stress can make your eyes more dry. Stress can temporarily impair the quality of your vision and give you the perception that your glaucoma is getting worse.

What I recommend to my patients is to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, make sure you are getting enough sleep, and do your best to control the way that stressors in your life are impacting your body. Reducing the stress in your life, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest will help your optic nerve to have the best environment to be able to function well.

Article by Davinder S. Grover, MD, MPH. Posted on February 18, 2021.