Man looking into slit lamp
Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Stress not only causes emotional strain, but the body may physically react to stress as well. In response to significant or long-term stress, a person will have a greater risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, obesity, difficulty sleeping or depression, states In addition to these health problems, stress may also affect the eyes. Knowing some of the eye conditions caused from stress may help detect a problem early.

Central Serous Retinopathy

One condition associated with stress is central serous retinopathy, which doctors may also refer to as central serous choroidopathy. This condition results when blood vessels leak under the retina, the tissue layer that lines the back of the eye. The swelling under the retina causes central vision to blur and straight lines to appear distorted, explains MedlinePlus. In most patients, the fluid under the retina will clear within a month or two. Some people, particularly those with significant cases of central serous, may require laser treatment to reduce fluid leakage and decrease retinal edema. Most people recover lost vision, but many people do have future episodes.


Blepharospasms, also known as eyelid twitching, may occur as a result of increased stress. The spasms cause the eyelid to twitch uncontrollably, which often causes frustration to the person experiencing the blepharospasms. In most cases, family members or other observers will not see the eyelid move. Over a period of hours or days, the twitching will gradually lessen without treatment. In significant or long-term cases, a doctor may recommend injecting Botox near the eyelid to prevent the muscle from twitching, states MedlinePlus. Besides stress, lack of sleep and caffeine consumption may trigger blepharospasms.


In some people, the eye may make uncontrollable movements, a condition called a nystagmus. The eye may move rapidly from side to side, up and down, or in other combinations of movement. As a result of this condition, a person will often experience poor depth perception and decreased vision, particularly if the eye movement occurs frequently. Stress and overall fatigue may trigger episodes of nystagmus, explains the American Optometric Association. Treatments cannot prevent or cure nystagmus, but eyeglasses may improve vision to some degree. In severe cases, a surgeon may manipulate the muscles that control eye movement in order to reduce episodes of nystagmus.