Stress is Mental. So is Vision.
Many of us tend to think of our emotions and our physical well being as being completely separate. It’s a natural assumption, given that so many of us in the West are conditions to see ourselves as mind and body, forgetting that these are two highly-integrated parts of a single whole. The research is now overwhelming: stress, anxiety, depression, and mental health problems in general directly impact our physical health. Mental stress negatively affects our immune system, our blood oxygen levels, and increases inflammation system-wide.
Our state of mind affects our health. This is just as true for vision as for anything else.
Vision is a Mental Activity
Let’s also not forget that vision isn’t just having two eyes. Vision is a dynamic system that’s basically neurological. Our brains interpret the visual signals we get from our eyes. It’s our brain that pieces the signals from our two eyes together into what we call vision.
Our brain is responsible for:
- Eye tracking
- Eye- teaming
- Judging depth
- Coordinating our movement with what we see (coordination)
- Alerting us to inbound impact and other dangers
- And much more.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that elevated stress affects our vision in profound ways. Lower oxygen levels mean the cells in our brains and our eyes are also simply not getting enough to thrive and function properly. Long Term, our retinas are susceptible to damage and serious vision conditions due to cell death throughout.
Healthy Eyes, Healthy Mind
In my Rocky River eye clinic, I take what’s called an integrative approach to optometry. I’m not just interested in treating symptoms. I will work with you that we are preventatively and actively promoting overall health― a healthy lifestyle and healthy vision are intimately linked.
I always remind patients to take a moment now and then for themselves. You aren’t going to be a productive employee or functioning member of the family if you don’t keep on top of your own well being. Here are some basic things you should be doing on a daily basis:
- Take a break from computers and other digital devices, especially before bed
It’s important to take a few minutes where you aren’t “wired in”. What’s more, the blue light emitted from these devices has been found to cause insomnia, amongst other things. It’s therefore very important to avoid looking at a digital screen at least an hour before bedtime. Do something you enjoy that doesn’t need a digital device. Read, create, work in the garage, garden―do whatever brings you joy and contentment.
- Mild Exercise
A moment of quiet is crucial. Take walk and take in the world around you. Swimming or Yoga are also great ways to keep anxiety down and refocus your mind effectively. You’ll be better able to cope and more productive too.
- Go in with Eyes Wide Shut
Meditation is a buzzword, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be an “out there” thing. Spending a few minutes with your eyes closed in a quiet environment can do wonders for your mood, your mind, and your ability to function. This includes a “power nap” or some other form of giving yourself and your eyes a break.