Is There a Connection Between Stress and Your Retinal Health?
is there a connection between stress and your retinal health

Is There A Connection Between Stress and Your Retinal Health?

February 24, 2021

A November 2020 report by Morneau Shepell called The Mental Health Index found that Canadians perceived their mental health to have declined for the eighth consecutive month in November 2020. That probably won’t surprise anyone in Calgary, but will this? The report also found that Albertans experienced the greatest increase in stress from October to November.

Ongoing and chronic stress is a significant risk factor for a wide range of health conditions, including sleeping problems, chronic headaches and even digestion problems. People suffering from systemic health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity often find their condition is worsened by chronic and ongoing stress. The connection between stress and serious health conditions is related to our brain’s reaction to stressful situations.

Human brains respond to stressful situations by triggering the production of hormones — especially cortisol. The production of cortisol temporarily boosts our evolutionary need to fight off threats by increasing our ability to process glucose but at the risk of some immune and digestive functions. When our stress and cortisol levels are high just long enough for us to fight off a bear or put out a fire, those spikes are not necessarily dangerous to our health. When stress is persistent or chronic, though, it can be a significant threat to your overall health.

Is stress a health risk for your retina?

Chronic stress does not directly pose a threat to the health of your retinas. That doesn’t mean that chronic stress is irrelevant, though. It can pose a serious albeit indirect threat to the health of retinas in people with already compromised health.

Adults with high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing retinal conditions like retinal vein occlusion and macular degeneration. Exposure to chronic stress worsens blood pressure problems. The worsening of an adult’s already high blood pressure can therefore indirectly increase the risk that they’ll develop a potentially serious retinal issue.

A similar risk exists in relation to diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes have a risk of developing a retinal disease called diabetic retinopathy. Because prolonged exposure to stress impacts blood sugar levels in your blood — those spikes in cortisol are the culprit — chronic stress indirectly increases a diabetic’s likelihood of developing retinopathy.

Nothing good comes from exposure to chronic and prolonged stress. Having said that, a healthy adult does not need to be concerned that stress will cause retinal disease. People whose health is compromised by chronic health conditions, though, can experience worsened symptoms if exposed to chronic stress. The very same thing is true about your retinal health if you suffer from chronic health conditions.

Are you concerned about your vulnerability to retinal disease as the result of your health and lifestyle? If you have any questions about your risk of retinal disease in your personal circumstances, don’t hesitate to contact a Calgary eye clinic. The professionals at the eye clinic near you will consult with you about your risks and offer you their best advice about how to protect and preserve your health and eyesight. If you have been diagnosed with any retinal condition and want advice about treatment with retinal detachment surgery in Calgary, the staff at Clarity Laser Vision can help. Considering getting retina surgery near you is stressful, we know, and we’re here to help.