Seeing The Light: How Vision Therapy Can Help People Suffering From Anxiety Disorders

Health & Medical Blog

Psychologists and behavioral optometrists are taking a new approach to the treatment of anxiety disorders: vision therapy. Proven effective for both children and adults, vision therapy is a wonderful, non-invasive treatment that can help patients not only address the visual side effects caused by the anxiety, but also simultaneously combat the sources of that anxiety. 

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

The term "anxiety disorder" is actually a broad category of stress-related mental diseases, and includes specific conditions such as panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

These mental illnesses all have a centralized theme: crippling irrational or over-exaggerated anxiety in certain environments or as a result of certain triggers. The anxiety is beyond the normal range of insecurity or nervousness expressed by a healthy person.

How Can an Anxiety Disorder Affect a Person's Vision?

Unfortunately, anxiety disorders often have very real physical manifestations, including vision problems. Some of the most common side effects that affect a person's vision include the following:

  • Dry eyes, which causes distorted vision, soreness, and dilated pupils;
  • Increased sensitivity to light, similar to that experienced in a migraine; 
  • Tunnel vision, which is identified by clear central vision but inability to view objects in the peripheral vision;
  • "Snowy vision," which is marked by noise or dots in the line of sight; and
  • Flashes of light, particularly when exercising. 

These side effects can enhance anxious feelings. Naturally, the best way to get rid of these side effects is by treating the actual anxiety disorder itself; however, this is not an overnight process. For severe vision problems caused by an anxiety disorder, vision therapy can often relieve symptoms.

What is Vision Therapy?

"Vision therapy" is a medical program that is catered to the patient's specific vision issues that cannot be cured by traditional optical methods, like corrective lenses. Thus, it is a very effective treatment option for vision problems that are caused by anxiety disorders and not eye problems or physical diseases, like diabetes. 

One of the most effective vision therapy techniques that doctors use to help patients overcome their anxiety-stemmed eye problems is called "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing," or EMDR. 

Basics of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, which is also occasionally referred to as "rapid eye movement therapy," not only addresses the vision problems, but also the anxiety that is causing the issues. In an EMDR therapy session, the therapist will have the patient focus on a moving object while simultaneously revisiting a traumatic event.

This technique forces the patient's eyes to move in the same manner as the eyes would in deep "rapid eye movement" sleep. As the patient's ability to focus on the moving object improves, so does the patient's ability to focus on--and recover from--painful memories or sources of anxiety. To learn more, contact a company like with any questions you have.


15 January 2015

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