Visual acuity deteriorates due to stress⁈ Story of psychogenic visual impairment
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
In today’s modern society, we are exposed to various types of stress. It is said that waiting is the greatest stress for most people, who can now use their smartphones to quickly check the internet, buy items on line and do various other things extremely conveniently.
When I was young and we didn’t have mobile phones, it was normal to pick a prominent spot at the station and wait for someone at a specific time. But now, all you need to do is go to the station first and call the person and say, “Where are you? Ok, I’ll meet you there.”
Stress can sometimes affect your body and cause illness. Psychosomatic disorders such as a stress-induced gastric ulcer is a physical condition caused by stress, but somatic symptom disorders are those with strong symptoms without medical explanation. When a somatic symptom disorder appears in the eyes, it may cause unexplained vision loss.
A girl who recently visited our clinic, claimed that the glasses she had made a year ago didn't fit.
When it came to her eyesight, no matter how strong the glasses she tried, her vision only went up to about 0.7. She did not have myopia, in fact both her eyes had very mild hyperopia. However, her condition was so serious that she could not see well even if she put on glasses. Her mother was shocked that her eyesight had deteriorated so fast that she had to replace her glasses even though her mom had just gotten her new glasses recently.
There was no obvious illness in the eyeballs and the cause of vision loss was unclear.
The clinical picture of psychogenic visual impairment is just above. It is common among young girls, and is often seen in elementary school to early teens, but it is rare, even in adults.
The stress that causes it may be obvious, or it may be unfamiliar to themselves or their parents. Sometimes it's a trivial reason, such as a good friend starting to wear glasses. In the case of adults, there are cases where it is beneficial to be invisible.
There are various types of visual impairment, such as those with reduced corrected vision, those with abnormal color vision, and those with narrow vision. It is also characterized by inconsistent symptoms. Symptoms vary in severity, and in some cases they can be seen by wearing fake glasses (without telling the person), but in other cases they are resistant to all treatments and have persistent visual impairment. Psychiatric approaches such as cognitive therapy may help.
The prognosis for this disease is good, and in most cases, eyesight recovers within a year. Blindness will almost never occur. It is easier for younger patients to heal, and for junior high school students and above, the stress which is causing the condition becomes more complicated and they become resistant to treatment.
If your child is suspected of having psychogenic visual impairment, it's a good idea to keep an eye on her and remove the stressful factors, rather than blaming her for not being able to see. It is also important to follow up with repeated examinations at an ophthalmologist to rule out other ocular conditions.
The Motomachi Marine Eye Clinic has an orthoptist who has a National Qualification for amblyopia training. If you have a child who is worried about low vision (vision impairment) or strabismus, we recommend that you make an appointment with the orthoptist soon.