When was the last time you felt truly anxious about something in your life? Anxiety is a very normal feeling, and one that occurs when we find it hard to control our worries and concerns. According to the American Psychiatric Association, as many as 30% of the adult population experience anxiety at some point during their lifetime, making it the most common of all mental disorders. Some people will experience very fleeting episodes of anxiety that vanish as quickly as they appeared. However, for some patients, their feelings of anxiety are more constant and have a significant impact on their quality of life.
Anxiety can cause very real, physical symptoms as well as mental ones. Some of the signs of anxiety include:
A racing heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Specific, repeated behaviors (OCD)
Exactly what triggers someone’s anxiety can come down to a number of different disorders. These include the following which represent some of the most common:
Panic attacks: sudden, severe episodes of uncontrollable anxiety that can appear for no apparent reason.
Phobias: these occur when someone has an excessive fear of a specific object, creature, situation or activity.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: also known as OCD, this is where a person feels compelled to perform specific, repeated behaviors.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: better known as PTSD, it is anxiety that occurs following a recent traumatic event.
Despite being linked to these various disorders, you may be surprised to know that these disorders themselves could also be the result of an eye condition known as binocular vision dysfunction, or BVD.
Binocular vision dysfunction is the name of a visual condition that occurs when the eyes aren’t working together as a team, and as a result, they are misaligned. This might not sound particularly serious, particularly if the misalignment is only very slight. However, if the eyes aren’t paired in perfect synchronisation, it can be difficult or even impossible for you to function properly without becoming dizzy – even if your vision is clear.
If you suffer from BVD, your brain won’t be able to process the incoming images from your eyes properly and will struggle to make sense of them. This is particularly the case if you are presented with a situation in which you experience an overload of visual stimuli – this could be because you are moving at speed such as when driving or being a passenger in a fast vehicle, or because you are in a busy shopping mall surrounded by people and noise. As your brain tries to deal with the influx of information that doesn’t quite come together perfectly, you may then experience the various symptoms associated with binocular vision dysfunction. These are largely similar, if not identical, to those experienced during an anxiety attack. Many people feel isolated and alone when they experience anxiety, particularly when it is a result of BVD.
Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help patients to overcome the impact that BVD has on their lives.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by binocular vision dysfunction, check out our free online BVD self-test or contact our optometry center in Santa Barbara, CA and speak to our friendly, reassuring and knowledgeable team by calling (805) 626-3400.