Bright Days and Panic Attacks

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Some people with long-term anxiety find that wearing tinted lenses or sunglasses reduces light sensitivity. The added bonus is that it also appears to reduce their anxiety and in some cases prevent headaches. Issues with vision are common with anxiety and it’s something I’ve addressed in my book Overcoming Worry and Anxiety.


    Recently a group of researchers from the University of Siena (Italy) compared 24 people with panic disorder with 33 who did not. When tested for photosensitivity it was found that those who did not experience panic showed a slight attraction towards light whereas those with panic disorder showed medium to high levels of light aversion.

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    Lights and lighting appears to have a bearing on panic. At a subjective level it is known that many panic sufferers choose to wear sunglasses because they feel more comfortable in them. But it is also known that in some people fluorescent lighting, commonly found in most shops, schools, colleges and businesses, can induce panic attacks.


    In the case of chronic stress and anxiety, the level of adrenaline in the body remains elevated. This can cause pressure on the eyes, sometimes resulting in blurred vision. Tunnel vision is another feature of excessive adrenaline and this tends to occur at times of high arousal or during a panic attack.


    Hypervigilance, a feature of anxiety, affects all the senses but as far as vision is concerned, our pupils dilate in response to adrenaline in order to take in more of our surroundings. We become highly sensitized to any slight movement. Over time this, and the strain from other senses, can result in muscular tensions and headaches.


    The exact mechanism of the association between light levels or forms of lighting and panic attacks isn’t known. In the meantime anyone reading this and who suffers from panic attacks may find some relief from experimenting with tinted lenses or lenses that react to light levels. It may not be for everyone but if you have found yourself blinking or straining in light levels where others appear unaffected there is a good possibility you are photosensitive.

Published On: November 08, 2014