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  • Writer's pictureKim Rasmussen

The stress of not being able to see clearly

What causes stress? It might seem like a simple question, but it is one with a complex answer. Several decades ago, the glib response would have been that stress is more likely to be caused by life-changing events such as the death of a loved one, moving home, or changing jobs. Nowadays, there is a recognition that the causes of stress can be many and varied and that triggers will be personal to the individual.

That’s one reason why the themes for Stress Awareness Month [1] have changed over the years, helping to raise awareness of potential triggers as well as highlighting the impact of stress on mental and physical health. In 2022 the theme is ‘Community;’ chosen because “lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness.”

The Stress Awareness Month organisers highlight the importance of continuing the community support, which was evident throughout the pandemic. And with lockdowns now over, this support includes helping people socialise with others by taking part in sports, hobbies or volunteering activities.

But what if the reason for isolation is due to another factor? If left uncorrected, poor eyesight can result in an individual being unable to participate in community activities. Children and adults alike who are unable to focus may not be able to judge distance or see a ball and may therefore self-exclude from many forms of sport. And who wants to be able to go and see a play if myopia means that the stage is a blur?

More severe eyesight problems could even lead to individuals confining themselves to their homes, fearful of trips, and falls from uneven ground that they are unable to see clearly. Small wonder then that poor eyesight has been recognised as a contributor to stress. One study even highlighted the risk of a downward spiral in which: “initial vision loss creates stress which further accelerates vision loss, creating even more stress and so forth.”[2]

Early identification of problems with vision is key to helping people to understand and manage their condition. However, unless the potential stress impact of poor eyesight is also factored into the treatment plan, it can be all too easy for individuals to feel isolated, thereby setting up a stress cycle that can only result in further long term negative implications for health and wellbeing.

Not being able to see clearly can be limiting enough. Feeling isolated and stressed simultaneously is not something that anyone should have to experience.

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