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PTSD, blurry vision & acupuncture

Our language is full of phrases linking our mood to our emotions: ‘rose–tinted glasses’ and ‘seeing red’, or an ‘eye opening’ moment.

There is now also plenty of evidence that our emotional state can influence our vision. In a previous article (here) we explored how different emotions can impact your sight.

In this article, we will focus on PTSD and a common manifestation it brings about: blurry vision.

The Journal of Neuroscience & the Scientific American magazine have both published behavioral studies that show there is a clear link between what we are thinking and how we see the world.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops following a stressful event presenting an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature. It causes pervasive distress [1]. PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder and is typically defined by the coexistence of 3 groups of symptoms:

  • re-experiencing (reliving traumatic experience)

  • avoidance

  • hyperarousal (being on edge all the time, unable to relax)

Fight or flight mode

PTSD is rooted in the body’s “fight or flight” mode, also know as sympathetic nervous system. The body automatically triggers an appropriate response to danger and then turns that reaction off when the danger is past.

When the stress is severe or lasts a long time, that “fight or flight” reaction continues even after the danger is past. The inability to turn off the “fight or flight” instinct leads to the symptoms we now associate with PTSD.

PTSD and vision problems

PTSD has well documented effects on vision. The most common effect is blurred vision.

All stress can cause vision change. Not just extreme stress like in PTSD, but any greater-than-usual stress like a divorce, moving, life changes, major illness of self or a loved one, and employment-related concerns.

This is due to connections between the sensory system and the limbic system.

Studies have also found that people with PTSD are more likely to develop Dry Eye syndrome.

In another study conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, researchers found that vision problems in veterans with mild traumatic brain injury are much more common and persistent than previously recognized. The vision problems most frequently reported by the veterans in the study were

  • convergence

  • sensitivity to light

  • ability to accommodate

  • double vision

  • floaters

In the study, full recovery of visual function took five years or more in many of the veterans, which is much longer than is typically seen in sports concussion.

Acupuncture for stress & PTSD

Acupuncture is widely used in mental disorders such as anxiety disorders [10], dementia [11], eating disorders [12], schizophrenia [13], sleep disorders [14], and substance-related disorders [15, 16].

A meta-analysis of acupuncture plus moxibustion versus SSRI (anti-depressants) favored acupuncture plus moxibustion in three outcomes.

Acupuncture is particularly good at helping you get out of sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) and guiding you into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest).

Some studies (link) show that it regulates the neurotransmitters inside the brain to balance the autonomic nervous system.

So why not use acupuncture to reduce stress, and improve blurry vision? Talk to your acupuncturist !

No matter where you are in your eye health journey,

if you need support, we can help.

In addition to our own team of specialized acupuncturists, we are well-connected within the Los Angeles- Pasadena area community to help you

find the right integrative and holistic care for you.

On our website, you can learn more about our services, and book an appointment.

If you have more questions please call our front desk, at 626-841-2991, or email us.


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