Vision problems and poor eye health can contribute to the development of mental health issues, including anxiety. The threat of these issues bolsters the decision to advocate for regular eye checkups for children nationwide this August, in honor of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Specialists recommend that the public understand potential warning signs for eye problems in children. Even the most basic activities can prove frustrating for a child with poor vision or other eye issues.
There are many common warning signs for children struggling with vision problems. These include repeatedly sitting too close to the television, rubbing eyes when concentrating, light sensitivity, tilting the head to read or see objects at a distance, closing one eye when reading or viewing something and bringing home an uncharacteristically low report card. These can be signs of refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Those struggling with nearsightedness can only read or see things up close, while individuals with farsightedness are only able to read or see things that at a distance. Astigmatism is the inability of the eye to process and focus light, making vision blurry or otherwise distorted.
Dealing with undiagnosed vision problems can increase anxiety in children. The child’s inability to see or process surroundings often leads to isolation or social withdrawal. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety can complicate both the social and academic lives of children. This includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety, social anxiety and panic disorder, among other anxiety-related mental health issues.
The relationship between eye health problems and anxiety is complex because some symptoms of anxiety are related to vision impairment, as well. Many individuals struggling with anxiety experience light sensitivity, as their pupils dilate in response to feelings of discomfort. An increase in blood pressure associated with anxiety also often leads to blurry vision. Specialists recommend that individuals of all ages struggling with these sight-related side effects of anxiety drink water, turn off the lights and relax to let the temporary vision problems pass. If a child is struggling with a sudden onset of symptoms, a diagnosis is needed by a health care professional to determine whether the issue is eye health or anxiety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, regardless of whether vision impairment is an existing symptom, help is available. Sovereign Health Group specializes in treating individuals struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse and dual diagnosis. Call (866) 819-0427 to speak with a professional today.
Eyes on the prize part 4: Helping children overcome the stigma of wearing glasses
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer
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