A newly released meta-analysis suggests there’s a strong correlation between psychological distress and eye disease. Study authors note that people with heightened stress levels often report a poorer quality of vision and/or have sight-robbing conditions.
According to their research, scientists believe too much cortisol in a person’s bloodstream does damage to both to the brain’s visual cortex and the eyes. Chronic unaddressed stress puts a person at a higher risk for developing potentially blinding disorders like glaucoma.
Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” and is released during a fight-or-flight reaction. People with chronic stress, generalized anxiety disorders, or extreme fatigue often suffer from heightened cortisol levels.
For their research, investigators poured through numerous research papers that looked into how likely stress was correlated with a visual disorder. While the exact mechanism behind this connection isn’t well understood, researchers hope this study will encourage eye doctors to recommend simple stress reduction techniques to all their patients.
Some of the most effective ways to reduce stress include daily meditation sessions, regular exercise, and taking Epsom salt baths before bed. Drinking herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, and peppermint and eating more fruits & veggies can also help soothe the mind.
Dr. Bernhard A. Sabel, who teaches at the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg’s Institute of Medical Psychology, was the head researcher on this project. Although most of this research took place in Magdeburg, a few study authors on this project teach at universities like NYU, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Pennsylvania State University.
Anyone interested in this research should pick up the latest copy of the EPMA Journal. Study authors entitled their study, “Mental stress as consequence and cause of vision loss: the dawn of psychosomatic ophthalmology for preventive and personalized medicine.”