What Is Ommetaphobia?

  • Fatima Zehra M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan
  • Laura Hawkins Doctor of Medicine - MB BCh BAO - 2010
  • Ellen Rogers MSc in Advanced Biological Sciences, University of Exeter

Ommetaphobia is an intense and irrational fear of eyes or eye-related objects. This can include a fear of being touched around the eyes, other people's eyes, looking at your own eyes in the mirror, eye drops, or even photographs or videos of eyes. It is classified as a social anxiety disorder and can significantly impact daily life and social interactions.

What is ommetaphobia?

Ommetaphobia is an extreme and irrational fear of eyes or eye-related objects which can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and avoidance behaviours. It is a specific phobia (an intense fear of something which poses little risk to your safety), but it can significantly impact the daily life of people suffering from it.1

Symptoms of ommetaphobia

The symptoms of ommetaphobia can vary in severity and intensity between individuals. However, some common symptoms of ommetaphobia include:

  • Extreme anxiety or fear when seeing eyes or eye-related objects
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Panic attacks or symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, dizziness, or trembling 
  • Feeling physical distress or discomfort when something is near the eyes or the eye region
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting when encountering eyes or related objects
  • Obsessively avoiding anything related to eyes, such as photographs, TV shows, or medical procedures related to eyes.

These symptoms can interfere with day-to-day functioning and may lead to social isolation or avoidance of social interactions altogether. 


There is no single known cause for ommetaphobia. However, some factors that may contribute to the development of ommetaphobia, including:

  • Traumatic experience(s) associated with eyes or vision, such as witnessing or experiencing an eye injury or surgery in the past
  • Cultural or religious beliefs which associate eyes with evil or negative experiences
  • Genetics, or a family history of anxiety or phobias
  • Overprotective parenting 
  • Neurological factors or imbalances in brain chemistry


The diagnosis of ommetaphobia involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. During the evaluation, the mental health professional will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any past experiences or traumas involving your eyes or vision. They may also use various psychological assessments and tests to diagnose the phobia.

To formally diagnose ommetaphobia, you must meet the diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria include:

  • Marked and persistent fear of or anxiety about a specific object or situation involving eyes
  • Exposure to the feared object or situation provokes an immediate anxiety response
  • The individual recognises that their fear is excessive or unreasonable
  • The fear or anxiety is not caused by another mental disorder, medication, or substance abuse
  • The fear or anxiety causes significant distress and/or interferes with normal functioning and day to day life


Treatment for ommetaphobia typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication.


1.) Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is the most effective treatment for phobias such as ommetaphobia. The aim is to teach individuals how to recognise and challenge negative thoughts associated with exposure to eyes and eye-related stimuli. Therapists may also use exposure therapy, a type of CBT that gradually exposes individuals to the feared stimuli until their anxiety response reduces.

2.) Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

This is another type of therapeutic technique that can help treat ommetaphobia. This therapy involves visualising an eye-related traumatic experience while moving the eyes back and forth, which is thought to help process the distressing memory and reduce the fear response.2


Medications used to manage ommetaphobia include:

1.) Anti-anxiety medications

Medications such as benzodiazepines may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anxiety for a short period, such as while you are undergoing psychotherapy.

2.) Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are sometimes used to reduce heart rate, tremors, and other physical symptoms of anxiety associated with ommetaphobia.

It's important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Treatment will usually be tailored to an individual’s specific needs in consultation with a mental health professional.

If you're experiencing symptoms of ommetaphobia, you should consult with a qualified mental health professional for formal diagnosis and treatment.


It's not always possible to prevent ommetaphobia, as it can develop due to a past negative experience or traumatic event involving eyes. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of developing ommetaphobia or other anxiety disorders:

  • Practice relaxation techniques: deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can all help to manage anxiety symptoms and reduce the risk of developing phobias
  • Seek professional help: if you are struggling with feelings of anxiety or fear, seeking the help of a mental health professional can allow you to explore your emotions and access appropriate treatment if necessary
  • Gradual exposure: gradually exposing yourself to a feared object or situation can help you to build up tolerance and reduce the anxiety associated with it
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: a healthy lifestyle includes eating healthily, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. A well-rested mind and body can handle difficult emotional situations more easily
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol: smoking, drinking, and taking drugs can all increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders. These habits can also mask symptoms and prolong the duration of the condition

It's important to seek professional medical help if experiencing ongoing anxiety or phobic symptoms. Seeking help quickly can reduce the severity and length of time you have to experience symptoms.


Ommetaphobia is an irrational fear of eyes, and it can be disabling for those who suffer from it. Treatment options include a combination of psychotherapy such as CBT or EMDR, and anti-anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines and beta-blockers. It is not always possible to prevent ommetaphobia, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeking professional help, gradual exposure to a feared object or situation, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can reduce the risk of developing anxiety disorders. It's important to seek professional medical help if you are experiencing ongoing anxiety or phobic symptoms.


  1. Eaton WW, Bienvenu OJ, Miloyan B. Specific phobias. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(8):678-686.
  2. Shapiro F. The role of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in medicine: addressing the psychological and physical symptoms stemming from adverse life experiences. Perm J. 2014;18(1):71-7.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Fatima Zehra

M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan

Fatima is a Pharmacist and Freelance Medical Writer with working experience in Pharmaceutical,
Hospital and Community Sector. She is passionate to educate people about health care. She has a
great interest to communicate complex scientific information to general audience using her
experience and writing skill.

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