Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Your Eyes

You may not have heard of it, but you may be suffering from it. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an extreme fatigue that lasts more than six months. It is an intense fatigue that does not improve quickly with rest and can become worse if the sufferer attempts physical activity or mental exertion. Another thing you may not know is that CFS can be connected to eye health and vision.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can sometimes be hard to diagnose because the symptoms are common to many illnesses, so patients are often misdiagnosed. The eight main symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain, joint pain (without redness or swelling), headaches, memory or concentration problems,  exhaustion lasting more than one day after physical or mental exertion, and enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits.

There are other symptoms that can occur, but do not present themselves in every person suffering from CFS. These include the inability to think clearly, balance issues (dizziness/fainting), allergies (foods, medications), irritable bowels, chills and night sweats, mood problems (depression, anxiety, irritability), and visual disturbances (blurry vision or sensitivity to light).

Vision and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Your EyesThe visual disturbances associated with CFS cover a variety of types. The most common complaint is of blurred vision. Some people also complain of itchy, watery eyes, while others have a real problem with dry eyes. With blurry vision and itchy or dry eyes, the sufferer will often rub their eyes, which only causes redness and more discomfort.

Other vision issues include problems with being able to focus on items, being able to focus from a distance, tracking lines of print, ghosting of images, tunnel vision (and other issues with peripheral vision), inability to judge distances, and eye floaters.

Sufferers of CFS who have experienced any of the above problems should be examined by a doctor. After studying many patients with CFS, doctors have found that patients often suffer from poor oculomotor control, which means eye movements that are normally quick become slow and sometimes jerky.  Sometimes it is difficult for a patient to move their eyes from one object to another.

Another issue that doctors see in CFS patients is exophoria. This means that when one eye is covered the other eye drifts outwards. Doctors also see restricted peripheral fields, low blink rates (and incomplete blinking), staring, small pupils, ocular surface abnormalities, abnormal tear film, and chronic allergic conjunctivitis.

Getting Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Often patients suffering from vision problems are referred to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Usually the patients have normal eye exams, other times the patient has such rapidly changing vision that corrective lenses will not help with them. Of course there are other alternatives that can help with vision issues related to CFS.

Staying hydrated will help alleviate issues with dry eye symptoms. Warm compresses can also help with dry eyes or with irritated eyes. If the patient is sensitive to light, they should avoid bright lighting such as fluorescence. They should also wear sunglasses whenever they are outside, regardless if it’s sunny or cloudy.

Patients complaining of itchy, watery eyes may get some relief from over-the counter antihistamines. But, regardless of the symptom, the more tired the patient feels, the more likely his or her symptoms will be aggravated.

To address the overall health and strength of the sufferer’s eyes, they should consider implementing a vision strengthening vitamin supplement into their daily routine.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers should also find ways to relax. By removing stress from their life, their body and mind will be able to rest more easily and heal more quickly. They should also work to get a full night of sleep. This sometimes means implementing a bedtime, room darkening window coverings, keeping napping in the daytime to a limited amount of time, avoiding caffeine, not drinking alcohol, and giving up nicotine.

A healthy diet will help rebuild their body strength. A diet full of vitamins and minerals will help the body and eyes regain their vigor. If you don’t think you can get all of the necessary vitamins and minerals into your diet every day, consider taking a supplement.

You should consult your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen if you are currently taking any medication to treat the other symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Another way a CFS sufferer can help overcome their illness is to refrain from overdoing it mentally and physically. It is very tempting to do a lot on a day when you are feeling better, but you will probably pay the price for it later by exhausting yourself. A rested CFS sufferer tends to go into remission sooner than one who continues to push themselves beyond their limit.

So, if you are having problems with CFS and notice it affecting your vision, these simple tips will help you strengthen your vision naturally without overexerting yourself. Give them a try and start seeing a difference in no time!


About Tyler Sorensen

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2 comments to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Your Eyes
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  1. prioris #

    You said

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an extreme fatigue that lasts more than six months.

    This definition is just plain wrong. The primary symptom is cognitive dysfunction. It is a disease primarily involving inflammation and swelling in the brain. Secondary it becomes a systemic disease affecting every part of the body. There is a massive symptom list where fatigue is just one symptom. Very few if any body ever recovers from the disease. Pushing the F-word (fatigue) is trivializing the devastating disease.

  2. Lemonade #

    I’d say this is a fair response to an article that’s helpful, but also seems to imply that CFS is an easily fixable result of poor lifestyle choices such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, which is very inaccurate. This is not to make a criticism of the article writer, who gives some very helpful, hard to find advice here. But CFS is difficult to write about because it’s often not recognized how severe and often untreatable the illness is. Other kinds of serious illness aren’t told to start seeing a difference in no time, and CFS should likewise be recognized as extremely serious. The friend we all know who recovered from chronic fatigue is the exception: the other 95% were in bed and we never had the chance to meet them, so we don’t realize how serious their illness is. There are debates about the appropriate name for the illness, but the fatigue symptom should be respected.

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