Eyecare professionals report that their stress levels today are nearly as high as they were when asked the same question at the start and in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to polls from Women In Optometry (WO). With more than 200 million views and 45,000 quotes reported in the first week, the WO poll measured respondents’ stress levels—the robust response rate seemed to indicate that stress levels were high. 

In fact, all-time high stress levels were higher in February 2024 than they were in November 2021, and nearly as high as they were at the start of the pandemic. The percentage of respondents that said their stress level was “status quo” has been steadily increasing, from 14 percent in May 2020 to 28 percent in February 2024.

Respondents, half of whom (52 percent) were female ODs, said their stress manifests itself in various ways. The three most commonly reported symptoms were: emotionally spent (65 percent), irritability (55 percent) and sleeplessness (47 percent).

Respondents also reported suffering from headaches and stomachaches, lack of concentration and guilt over not being present.

Respondents were asked how they deal with their stress. Many reported they use exercise, meditation, prayer, yoga and other “me time” activities to lower stress. Some said that they turn to self-medication (including alcohol and marijuana), eating or alternative therapies like hypnosis.

Others noted that they try to avoid stressful situations, including family drama and focusing on what they can control. 

Just over half (52 percent) of respondents were female ODs. Another 37 percent were male ODs and 11 percent were non-OD females.