The hormone most referred to as the “stress hormone” is called cortisol, and it’s typically released in the presence of a threat. It’s responsible for several biological responses like increasing glucose in the bloodstream, enhancing the brain’s usage of glucose, and inhibiting certain bodily functions when fight-or-flight is engaged. However, chronic stress is a known health risk, and an article in Review of Optometry details how cortisol levels may be linked with decreased visual function.
The Report Revealing Stress’s Influence
Published in BMC Ophthalmology, the report shares a patient’s story who experiences recurring central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) which may be worsened by cortisol. The authors detail that the patient’s pigment epithelial detachment (PED) presented both recurrence and resolution in time-dependent intervals. Cortisol has been known to influence CSC development, particularly when it comes to abnormal fluctuations of cortisol levels throughout the day. In this case, the authors were able to rule out potential external contributors, leaving them to deduce that abnormal cortisol variation was indeed the culprit affecting the patient’s PED.
Other Studies That Link Cortisol to Worsening CSC
Ameta-analysis published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology also demonstrated that increased risk of CSC was significantly correlated with cortisol levels. Additionally, the CSC participants had higher serum cortisol overall vs. the non-CSC arm of the analysis. Another study publsihed in the Journal of Clinical Medicine connected higher cortisol levels in CSC patients when they first wake up and at 30 minutes and 60 minutes post-wake-up vs. patients without CSC. These results, along with the report’s conclusion, led the authors to believe,
“…interventions against the abnormal cortisol level might be a potential [care] strategy for CSC patients.”
How You Can Help Patients Manage Cortisol Levels
Cortisol may not be the first thing eye care professionals think about when caring for their patients with visual function challenges, but this research urges action where possible to help patients manage cortisol production. Luckily for eye doctors, a common care recommendation may already be a step in the right direction.
Zeaxanthin, Lutein, and Cortisol
The two main dietary carotenoids for crisp, clear vision, zeaxanthin and lutein, have been demonstrated to reduce serum cortisol. In a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience, researchers determined that supplementing with dietary zeaxanthin and lutein for 6 months “significantly reduces stress, cortisol, and symptoms of sub-optimal emotional and physical health.”
Specifically, there was a strong correlation between macular pigment optical density (MPOD) scores and overall wellbeing. Furthermore, these results either maintained or improved more in 12 months.EyePromise®, the #1 eye health nutraceutical choice for eye care professionals and professional athletes, is the only line guaranteed to increase MPOD in 6 months. Additionally, with the highest levels of dietary zeaxanthin available, EyePromise helps improve patients’ visual functions like contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, scotopic vision, visual processing speeds, and glare recovery.
The stress response can disappear as quickly as it surfaces, or it can make a lasting impression on someone’s day and health. Start helping your patients manage their stress levels by measuring their baseline MPOD, recommending an EyePromise eye health nutraceutical, and tracking their supplementation progress. Here’s how.