Ommetaphobia describes an extreme fear of eyes. Like other phobias, this type of fear can be strong enough to interfere with your daily routine and social activities, while also being considered irrational because of the lack of any “real” danger.
But no matter how “irrational” it may be, ommetaphobia is very real to those who struggle with it. To cope with ommetaphobia, you must first identify the underlying cause of it. Coping strategies combined with therapies and possible medications can also help.
A phobia over eyes is likely linked to a negative past experience that involved eyes in some way. Thus, certain situations that involve eyes could very well trigger this type of phobia.
Some real life examples of triggers include:
- Public speaking, where you’re expected to look at other people in their eyes to establish connection.
- Socializing with others who might look you in the eye when they’re speaking to you.
- Undergoing an eye exam with an ophthalmologist, or eye doctor.
- Having to put contact lenses in your eyes.
- Putting eye drops in your eyes for the treatment of dry eye or pink eye.
- Seeing eye masks used in spas or on planes.
- Getting sand, shampoo, or other substances in your eyes.
- Seeing fake eyes, such as those used in Halloween decorations.
For some people, this phobia may be so severe that the mere thought of eyes can be extremely anxiety-provoking.
Phobias such as extreme fears of eyes primarily present symptoms when you’re faced with your trigger. You may panic and feel as if you’re “losing control.” Symptoms can show up in the following ways:
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- dry mouth
- muscle tension
- feelings of paralysis, in which you can’t move or speak
The symptoms of ommetaphobia can last for several minutes, even after you’ve been removed from the triggering situation.
Another common trait seen in phobias is the practice of avoidance. In the case of eye phobia, this would mean you go out of your way to avoid eye contact and any other situation in which you’re forced to look at eyes, touch your own, or have them touched.
While it can help you feel less fearful and anxious in the short term, avoidance can make your phobia worse in the long run.
Phobia is an extreme version of fear. While researchers continue
In other words, you may be fearful of situations that involve eyes, but the way you react to this type of phobia can either help or worsen your overall response.
Ommetaphobia may be related to three main possible causes. The first is a negative experience that triggered your fear of eyes. This might have been related to an eye injury or discomfort, or perhaps seeing something negative happen to another person’s eyes.
Such negative experiences may also be related to a mutilation phobia. As the name suggests, this type of phobia is classified as a strong fear of mutilation, or injury. For some people, ommetaphobia might manifest as an unrealistic fear that their eyes are in danger of being injured.
Another possible cause is the avoidance of eyes related to situational or social phobias, also called social anxiety.
When you have a strong fear of social situations, making eye contact with other people can further trigger your symptoms. Social phobias may be related to past triggers, but they can also be caused by hereditary anxiety disorders.
Certain types of medications may help some people struggling with phobias, especially if anxiety disorders are determined. Your doctor might prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications if your symptoms are particularly severe.
While psychiatric medications won’t directly cure eye phobia, they can help you manage your symptoms should any eye triggers arise. The best way to treat a phobia is with therapeutic techniques.
First, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of your ommetaphobia. A mental health professional can help you determine if it’s hereditary or familial based, related to social phobia, or perhaps related to a negative past experience.
From there, a licensed therapist can help determine the best way to treat your phobia. One effective method is exposure therapy, where you’re gradually introduced to your fears until they don’t bother you as much. Talk therapy can also help you further solidify techniques to face your fears without caving into avoidance.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another psychotherapy-based approach that includes exposure therapy. In addition to learning how to prevent avoidance though, CBT also teaches you techniques to help gain control by viewing your fears in a different way.
For example, you and your therapist might explore the likelihood of eye injury based on the situations you tend to avoid because of ommetaphobia.
While professional treatments can help address ommetaphobia, these approaches are designed to help you over the long term. It’s important to be patient and consistent with your treatment so you have better chances of overcoming your phobia.
In the meantime, consider the following coping techniques to help complement your treatment:
Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness-based practices are other options that can help complement professional therapy techniques. Such practices can help increase awareness about your feelings as well as the physical reactions that are directly related to your phobia.
Even a few minutes per day can help you find relief from your symptoms while instilling a sense of calm.
Consider daily exercise
While working out alone won’t address your fear of eyes directly, regular exercise can help with anxiety management. This in turn can help you better cope with your phobia while reducing the severity of symptoms.
The key is to find an activity you enjoy and to make it a point to practice it on a regular basis. If you’re new to exercising, ask your doctor for advice on activities you can safely manage.
Reach out to loved ones
Addressing your phobias can be a frightening experience, and you’ll need all the support and love you can to help you cope. Consider asking a friend or family member to accompany you to situations that you would normally avoid due to your fears. Having that support may help ease your mind.
Mild cases of ommetaphobia may be addressed with gradual exposure. However, many phobias of this kind are more complex than this.
If a fear of eyes is interfering with your ability to work, run errands, or socialize, it may be time to get a referral for a mental health professional from your doctor.
You can also search for a credible psychotherapist in your area. The American Psychological Association is one place you can start. Here, you can further refine your results based on specialty.
Ommetaphobia may not be as widely known as other types of phobias. However, its effects may be very significant for those who struggle with it.
Avoiding eyes will only get you so far. The only way to fully address and begin to overcome this phobia is a combination of therapy and coping skills that can help reduce your anxiety.
If you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with ommetaphobia, talk to a mental health professional about ways you can get started with treatment.
Like other phobias, ommetaphobia can bring loneliness and reduced quality of life for those who are affected. It’s important to address these fears sooner than later to improve your overall well-being.