Have you ever experienced a headache that affected your vision? Many of us know what it is like to have a headache. Depending on the cause, it can trigger a sharp, dull, or throbbing sensation of pain ranging in severity. While it may be difficult to determine the cause of a headache, one cause you may have overlooked could be your vision.
Headaches That Affect Your Vision
Though most headaches are caused by primary headache disorders such as migraines, tension headaches, or cluster headaches. Each of these headaches can cause various eye problems.
- Cluster headaches are recurring headaches that may lead to intense pain behind or around the eyes, as well as swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, and watery eyes.
- Migraines are often accompanied by visual disturbances and can cause sensitivity to light and severe pain behind the eyes
- Tension headaches are known to create a feeling of pressure behind the eyes as well as sensitivity to light.
It is important to note that headaches can be the cause or result of various eye problems.
Vision Problems That Cause Headaches
When you look at objects at close range or attempt to focus on an object farther away, the muscles around and in your eyes work to focus. If you overwork your eyes, these muscles can become sore and tired like other muscles in your body. Your vision may be the cause of your headaches due to the following conditions:
- Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma – a rare type of glaucoma that can cause headaches due to a rapid increase in eye pressure. Other symptoms may include redness, eye pain, and cloudy vision
- Eye Strain – By overusing the focusing muscles of your eyes, you can develop a headache in addition to temporary double vision, sensitivity to light and other problems that go away once rested
- Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) – Inflammation of the arteries along your temple can cause throbbing pain and affect your vision due to complications in the blood supply to your optic nerves and retina. If untreated, vision loss may occur
- Uncorrected Vision – Overworking your eyes to see clearly can cause the muscles in your eyes to become fatigued leading to headaches
Other vision conditions that can be associated with headaches include trauma, degenerative eye diseases, infections, dry eyes, inflammation, optic nerve conditions, or tumors.
How to Recognize Vision-Related Headaches
Vision-related headache symptoms are considered mild compared to migraines and tension or cluster headaches. If the headache develops after prolonged eye activity, the pain or discomfort goes away after rest, or there are no digestive discomforts, your vision could be the source of your headaches. If you remove the triggers that strain your eyes and your headache resolves, it may be due to eye strain or a vision condition. However, if you have removed factors that overwork your eyes, yet you still experience headaches, it is time to consult your doctor.
The treatment of headaches is aimed at reducing the severity and frequency of occurrence. You can attempt to treat your headache at home with the following steps:
- Massaging your temples, neck, or shoulders
- Placing an ice pack or cold compress onto your face
- Resting in a dark and quiet space
- Staying hydrated
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication
Each type of headache may respond differently to treatments, and an effective treatment option for one patient may be ineffective for another patient. In addition to these treatment options, patients can take preventative actions to reduce the risk of experiencing vision-related headaches. The following lifestyle modifications can help to reduce the chance of headaches:
- Adjust your electronic screens for optimal viewing
- Aim to reduce stress levels
- Confirm your prescription eyewear is correct
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain good posture
- Sleep properly
- Take a break to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes
- Use eye drops to prevent dryness
- Use sunglasses when outside in the sun
If your headaches persist even after making lifestyle changes or trying at-home treatment options, contact your doctor to schedule an appointment. If you experience a headache in addition to sudden changes in vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and severe eye pain, seek immediate medical attention. For more information on headaches and your vision or to schedule a consultation, contact The Optometry Center for Vision Therapy today.