Eye health and mental health issues aren’t usually said in the same sentence.
I wear glasses, and have for years, but I’ve never thought about it as being related to the state of my emotional health. Why would I? It’s so off the wall.
But recently I learned that the two are linked, while researching the post that inspired this series. My mind was blown.
I mean, both my parents wear glasses, so I suppose it makes sense that I do. But they also have both been diagnosed with mental health issues.
Suffice it to say, I became fascinated, and wanted to learn more about how this is even a thing, and share it with the rest of you. So keep reading to find out the truth about eye health and depression.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
First of all, what is depression?
It might be helpful to do a recap of what depression actually is from an academic standpoint. Maybe you’re at the beginning of your mental health journey, or reading this to help a loved one who lives with mood issues. If that’s the case, here is some handy info!
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is:
“Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.”
Some symptoms people might expect to feel when they are depressed are as follows:
- Feeling sad, or generally “down”
- Loss of interest
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Super tired
- Slowed movement or speech
- Increased fidgeting
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Pro-tip: Most doctors say these symptoms need to last for some time before they’re indicative of depression. Also, make sure to rule out any physical causes.
How depression affects eye health
A study done between 2005-2008 concluded that loss of visual function does sometimes correlate with depression!
Another study stated that chronic stress, “which raises levels of the hormone cortisol, can negatively affect our vascular and sympathetic nervous systems.” That leads to vision issues.
The leader of this second study, Professor Sabel, said, “There is clear evidence of a psychosomatic component to vision loss, as stress is an important cause — not just a consequence — of progressive vision loss resulting from diseases such as glaucoma, optic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.” (Medical News Today, “Persistent stress may lead to vision loss, study shows”)
So, while not everyone with depression has issues with their eyesight, there are studies being does that show a strong correlation, whether psychosomatic or not. (Psychosomatic basically means not of physical but emotional causes.)
Supplements for vision issues
I, for one, have depression and I wear glasses. My right eye has nearly perfect vision though very slightly farsighted. My left is extremely nearsighted. What about you? Do you wear glasses or contacts?
How can you care for your eyes if you do live with vision issues?
According to HealthLine, the following supplements have been known to help improve your eye health:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin C
Click the images to order one!
Good vision practices
That same article also recommends the following ideas for keeping your peepers in tip top shape on a regular basis.
- Use a humidifier in your home if the air is dry.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep your eyes moist with artificial tears.
- Change your furnace or air conditioner filters regularly.
- Avoid environments with dusty or dirty air.
- Use cold compresses, cucumbers, or dampened and cooled green or black tea bags on your eyes.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels in the eyes.
- Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses.
- Maintain a healthy weight and an active lifestyle.
- After age 60, get a dilated eye exam each year.
- Make sure your diet contains plenty of green leafy vegetables, spinach, corn, oranges, eggs, yellow carrots.
5 ways to manage your depression
There are things you can do to keep your depression under control, which could in turn help your vision issues.
Try your hand at journaling.
It’s really inexpensive to get started with journaling and it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Grab a notebook and a pen, and try some of the following ideas.
- Write down 3 things you are truly grateful for that day.
- Write down your vision for yourself 5 years from now.
- Describe your perfect day.
- Write down everything that went right that day.
You can write about anything that speaks to you at that time. Another idea is to write down all your negative thoughts and then counteract them with positive ones.
Get regular exercise.
No, exercise doesn’t change the fact that you were diagnosed with depression. People tend to hate this advice. Sorry, but exercise does help.
That’s not just my personal opinion. Science has proven it time and time again. HelpGuide says that exercise has the following benefits:
(BQ) “Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.” (The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise)
See a therapist.
Therapists are true gems. They have an incredibly difficult job, and do such wonderful work. I speak with my own therapist once a week and it has done wonders for my ability to speak up when I need help, and for my negative thought patterns.
I know it can be scary to make that first initial call. For some reason, it took me ages to reach out and make an appointment this time around. It can feel like we’re failing, and have totally lost control. And I know that’s a yucky feeling.
But it really is important to not only recognize when you need help, but to take the action steps to get it.
Practice daily self care.
It’s very important to practice self care every single day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, it can have enormous benefits. What is self care?
Self care is my favorite topic, and I believe it needs to have 4 components to be truly effective. (int link)
- It must be duplicatable.
- It must be affordable.
- Also, you need to make sure it’s actually restorative (vs strictly pleasurable).
- It also involves separating yourself from toxic people.
You also need daily self love.
Along with self care, you also need self love. This means changing the way you think about, and speak about yourself.
If you find that you are mired in negative self talk, try positive affirmations. I get it, they’re really corny. But with time and patience, they can be super effective. Try the following:
- I am a really good mom.
- I’m beautiful inside and out.
- I accept all the good things that the Universe offers me.
Poor vision doesn’t have to ruin your life.
Yes, eye health and depression can go hand in hand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a super fulfilling life. Hey there, depressed girl with glasses here. I’m married with children, have friends, and even workout most days. It’s possible, and vital, to believe that these things are possible.
Previous posts in series:
Next up: Anxiety and Muscle Tension
Do you deal with this? Tell me about it in the comments, and make sure you share this if you found it helpful!
Hopefully this knowledge about eye health helped improve your vision for yourself!
Related posts for symptoms of depression: