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Eye strain/blurriness and strange, constant dizziness?
armygirl53 posted:
Hey guys. I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder in 2010 and initially took Lexapro 10mg to help control the panic attacks. In March of last year, I decided (with the help of my physician, of course) to kick the medication because it was doing more harm than wonders.

Anyway, in April of last year, I began experiencing this strange strain in my eyes which was accompanied by dizziness. I had this until July, when it completely went away. Last week, however, I had a mild panic attack (for the first time in a while) in my car and the dizziness/eye strain has returned.

The dizziness is not like a typical, lightheaded feeling. It's more of a feeling like I am going to fall flat on my rear, or as if I'm swaying when I'm walking. The ground does not feel solid at times. Always with this dizziness, I have strain in my eyes that causes my vision to be blurry, and makes it hard to concentrate.

In May, I went to the hospital, thinking it may have been physical, but I had several tests done and they ruled it as a symptom of anxiety. Has anyone else experienced this before? It's so incredibly exasperating and I find it hard to do much other than sit. Thanks.
Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Although I'm not an MD, I am wondering if they considered the possibility that you were having an ophthalmic migraine. These, although they are not accompanied by actual migraine pain, can cause vision problems with a feeling that you may be falling over. As I understand it, it may be brought on by stress or overuse at reading or using the computer. You might want to check with your ophthalmologist.

If it is anxiety, since it seems you would prefer not to take medication, you might want to try some self-help techniques. In our Tips column we do have a video tutorial on relaxation breathing and I would recommend that you give this try. I would also think that some mild, regular exercise would be good since this has the ability to not only alleviate stress, but lessen any anxiety that you may be feeling. Both of these may be useful to you.

I hope that you do feel much better very soon.
miranau responded:
I've had a similar sort of sensation when I have panic attacks, or sometimes if I'm just mildly anxious. I get the feeling of eye strain, or that my eyes are having trouble focusing (though nothing is really blurry). I also get the sensation that lights are very bright, and I want to squint. This sensation can also mess with perception; I've kind of experienced the feeling that I'm not walking straight or might fall over - I'm not dizzy, persay, but I feel as though I'm on the brink of becoming dizzy. However, I think it's just perception being messed up from what my eyes are seeing.

My theory is that excess adrenaline (triggered by anxiety's "fight or flight") causes the pupils to dilate, and take in more stimuli, which can be kind of overwhelming. I find wearing sunglasses or simply closing my eyes for a little bit can help.

Not sure if it's the exact same thing, but figured I'd throw in my two cents; haven't heard many people with this issue, so it was interesting to read your experiences.

Best of luck.

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