stress and dry eyes

Can Stress Cause Dry Eyes?

Can stress make your eyes feel like sandpaper? Is there any link between stress and dry eyes? Read on to find out!

We all know that stress can cause chaos in our overall health, but did you know it can also affect your eyes? That burning, gritty feeling you get after a long day staring at deadlines or wrestling with anxieties?

It might not just be eye strain – it could be stress-induced dry eyes.

Does stress cause dry eyes? Stress can contribute to dry eyes by disrupting the body's natural tear production and causing decreased blinking, leading to dryness and discomfort.

Our eyes are the one area where stress manifests itself in surprising ways, leading to the discomfort of dry eyes. But how exactly does stress contribute to this condition? Let's dive deep into the intricate relationship between stress and dry eyes.

What is Dry Eyes Syndrome?

can stress and dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the quality of tears is poor, resulting in discomfort, irritation, and sometimes even vision problems.

Factors playing a role in the development of dry eyes include:

  • Aging
  • Hormonal changes
  • Environmental issues
  • Certain medications and more.

However, emerging research suggests that stress and anxiety may also be significant contributors to this prevalent ocular issue.

Stress is Inevitable in Life!

stress and dry eyes

Stress is an inevitable part of modern life, but with proper coping strategies, it doesn't have to control us. From work deadlines to personal responsibilities, our pressures can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being.

Can Stress and Dry Eyes Really Be Linked?

Can stress cause dry eyes? The answer is a resounding yes. When we experience stress, our bodies react by triggering the "fight or flight" response, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

These stress hormones can affect various bodily functions, including tear production. Prolonged or chronic stress can disrupt the tear film, the protective layer that coats the eyes' surface, leading to dryness and discomfort.

Moreover, stress can indirectly exacerbate dry eyes by influencing behaviors contributing to the condition. For instance, when stressed, people may engage in activities like prolonged screen time or reduced blinking, which can worsen dry eye symptoms.

Additionally, stress-related habits such as smoking and poor dietary choices can further aggravate ocular health issues. Stress is a major contributor to dry eyes for other reasons. Here's why:

  • Reduced Blinking: When stressed, we tend to focus intently, blinking less frequently. This disrupts the natural tear film that lubricates and protects our eyes.
  • Hormonal Havoc: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can decrease tear production.
  • Inflammation Frenzy: Chronic stress can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including the tear glands, further impacting tear production.

Can Anxiety Cause Dry Eyes Too?

stress and dry eyes

Yes, anxiety and stress often go hand-in-hand, and the effects on your eyes can be similar. During anxious episodes, the same blinking reduction and hormonal changes can occur, leading to dry eye symptoms.

Beyond everyday stress, anxiety, a more intense and prolonged form of stress, can also impact ocular health. Studies have shown a correlation between anxiety disorders and dry eye syndrome, suggesting that the psychological burden of anxiety can manifest physically in the form of dry eyes.

The constant state of alertness and hypervigilance associated with anxiety can disrupt the body's natural processes, including tear production and ocular surface maintenance.

Managing Stress for Healthy Eyes

stress and dry eyes

Given the undeniable link between stress and dry eyes, it becomes imperative to adopt strategies to manage stress effectively for overall well-being, including ocular health. Here are some tips to help alleviate stress and reduce the risk of dry eyes:

  1. Practice Stress Reduction Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or tai chi into your daily routine to promote calmness and reduce stress.
  1. Take Breaks from Screens: Limit screen time, especially when engaging in tasks that require prolonged focus, and remember to take regular breaks to rest your eyes and blink more frequently.
  1. Prioritize Self-Care: Prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and engaging in physical activity to support overall health and resilience against stress.
  1. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to contact friends, family, or mental health professionals for support and guidance in managing stress and anxiety effectively.
  1. Practice Good Eye Hygiene: Use lubricating eye drops, avoid environments with dry air, and protect your eyes from irritants like smoke and wind to support ocular health.

Don't despair! Here are some ways to combat dry eyes and find relief:

If symptoms persist, consult an eye specialist. They can diagnose the underlying cause of your dry eyes and recommend further treatment options.

Learning to Cope is Key to Well-being

stress and dry eyes

Learning to cope with stress is essential for overall well-being. By developing effective coping skills, individuals can better manage stress and its impact on their mental and physical health.

Proactive coping strategies, such as planning for future obstacles and maintaining healthy habits, can help individuals navigate stressful situations.

Additionally, modeling positive coping behaviors and engaging in activities that promote self-care can contribute to better stress management. It is important to prioritize one's well-being and seek support when needed

Remember, coping with stress is a continuous learning process, and finding what works best for you is key to maintaining a healthy and balanced life.


Remember, taking care of your mental and physical well-being can go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable. By managing stress and incorporating these tips into your routine, you can say goodbye to dry, irritated eyes and hello to clearer vision and a calmer state of mind.

Revitalize Your Vision: Discover Expert Relief for Dry Eyes with Vision Source Rio

Experience relief from dry eyes and prioritize your eye health with Vision Source Rio, your trusted eye care specialist. Book your appointment today for personalized care and expert solutions.

Explore more:

  • What are the Causes of Dry Eyes at Night?
  • Pink Eye vs. Stye: What’s the Difference?
  • How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?
  • Can Myopia be Reversed?
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