08 December 2022

How Eye Strain Affects Mental Health

Poets lament that the eyes are the window to the soul, and though that makes for good reading, it might be more accurate to say they are a window to mental health. Researchers have known for generations that mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, can be quickly diagnosed by watching a patient attempt to track slow moving objects. A schizophrenic will lag behind the object and then quickly catch up by skipping their gaze. This is one example of how a mental issue can affect the eyes. There is also evidence that the reverse is true.

Vision and Depression

Vision is a very important part of daily life and as we age, it can begin to diminish, leading to depression and other mental health issues. For many, a loss of vision is translated into a loss of personal freedom. Where once you could move around your home with ease, read the paper or drive, you now may be required to wear glasses, obtain surgery or even cope with blindness (when there is no medical remedy). As you can imagine, this can lead to some dark thoughts and despair.

Vision and Anxiety

Along with feeling depressed about the loss of vision, those who are unable to use corrective lenses or are waiting for surgery may experience anxiety. When you cannot see clearly, the risk of accident increases, both inside the home and out. For this reason, many people tend to withdraw from the world at large, even if the vision impairment is not severe yet. It is fear that keeps them home alone.

Vision and Mood

As you might imagine, someone struggling to see may become more moody than normal due to fear, frustration, and loneliness. Other common eye disorders can result in all of the above and more. Consider someone struggling with dry eye, a condition that requires constant attention and can become very painful.

What to Do

If you feel like you are beginning to notice signs of poor eyesight or struggling with eye strain, it is definitely time to see the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Sometimes, eye strain is nothing more complicated than a focus problem. Other times, it is a sign of macular degeneration, glaucoma or other disorder, many of which can lead to mental health issues.

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