Stress Related Eye Problems

Eye Health

By Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about stress-related eye problems.

In this day and age, almost no one is free from stress as we rush about the day meeting demands, targets and deadlines. Indeed, for many of us stress is just part of life. Having some stress is good because it can motivate people to function effectively at their best. However, as with most things too much of stress may result in or worsen health problems like depression, agitation, eating and sleeping disorders, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, abdominal problems including eye problems. Eye problems occur when one is living with consistently high levels of stress. One such eye condition that may result as a result of stress is called Central Serous Retinopathy.


Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR) is a condition when there is a collection of fluid in the central part of the back of the eye called the macula. This fluid that causes swelling of the back of the eye (macula) affects the vision.


  • A person who suffers from CSR may have several different types of visual disturbances as follows:
  • Central blurring vision or dull vision in the centre of the visual field.
  • Seeing wavy or distorted lines – where straight lines may appear crooked.
  • Seeing images bigger or smaller than they actually are.
  • Colours may appear “washed-out” or dull.


The eye care professional will check your visual acuity and see how much it has been affected. In most cases, the vision is not so severely affected but the central vision clarity loss and distorted images seen can be distressing to the already stressed out patient.

A dilated pupil examination will show the swelling in the back part of the eye (see adjacent picture). An OCT Scan done can very quickly show the swollen macula (central part of the back of the eye).


In most cases, CSR will generally clear in a few weeks to month and the patient recovers fully without any permanent loss of vision. In some patients there may be residual loss of contrast sensitivity making the night vision somewhat affected. In rare instances however, the condition may be prolonged up to even 1 year or the patient may suffer repeated episodes of swelling of the macula. Such repeated episodes almost always leaves some permanent loss of vision or contrast sensitivity.


The patients are usually advised to de-stress although this may be difficult for many. Learning how to set aside time to relax, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and getting sufficient rest will help. When the CSR is prolonged showing no sign of resolution, argon laser photocoagulation treatment may be given to reduce the fluid leakage or swelling of the macula (back of the eye).


Learning how to handle the stresses of life can be more important than most of us would think. If you are undergoing undue stress, learn to recognise it and take measures to de-stress. Remember, apart from stress causing CSR in the eye, stress can have harmful effects on a person’s general health. Always seek professional help if you are unable to de-stress effectively.

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