Headaches are a problem that can make daily tasks more challenging, mainly if they occur often. Of course, treating your headaches relies on knowing the underlying causes. Common types of headaches include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Occasionally, these headaches can go hand-in-hand with eye problems, such as vision issues, eye muscle imbalance, inflammatory eye disorders, or other types of pain in the eye areas, which suggest that our eyes may be triggering the headache. However, it’s difficult to tell whether eye strain is the cause or effect; sometimes, a headache may not result from eye strain, but exerting your eyes can still aggravate the pain. As such, you need to observe your headache’s triggers and symptoms.
How to determine if eye strain is behind your headache
A headache caused by eye strain typically affects the frontal area, in or around your eyes. It may occur when the muscles responsible for focusing your eyes tire due to exertion. They also come with other eye strain symptoms such as eye pain, dry eyes, itching or burning sensations, blurred or double vision, and eye twitches.
Fortunately, the effects of eye strain only last a short while, and eliminating their causes may result in immediate relief. To test whether your headaches are eye strain-related, you should remove visual activities, including reading books, playing computer games, or working on your screen. If your headaches and other symptoms get better, they’re likely caused by eye strain.
However, it’s important to note that other eye-related conditions may be the underlying cause of your headaches. If you experience other symptoms like nausea or severe eye pain, you may suffer from a different health problem that needs further attention.
In general, eye strain related headaches are typically more of a dull achy type of headache around the eyes and forehead. They resemble closest to tension type headaches. If the headaches are more of a moderate to severe level of pain, and associated with nausea and/or sensitivity to light and sound, these would be consistent with migraines. Migraines are not usually related to eye strain.
How to deal with eye-related headaches
Reduce strain from visual activities
Addressing a simple eye strain is easy with healthier habits. It’s vital to ensure that lighting is always appropriate. For instance, if you’re on a screen, your room should be softly lit to avoid glare. You should also frequently take breaks when you work by looking away from the page or screen. When choosing eyewear, ensure that your glasses or contact lenses are designed for protection against screen glares. Migraine glasses can also be very effective at helping to prevent migraines, as well as treat them abortively after they begin. These are special glasses that block out blue light and other wavelengths that come from phones, computer screens, fluorescent lights, and other sources that commonly trigger migraines. Finally, relieve eye strain-induced dry eyes with artificial tears to avoid redness and itchiness.
Get an eye exam
Underlying eye conditions like refractive errors (such as astigmatism or myopia) can worsen your headaches, so you should visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an updated prescription. Aside from your local clinician, you can also trust eyewear retailers to connect you with professionals for more comprehensive eye exams. LensCrafters is a reliable site for referrals to licensed optometrists. Aside from testing you for refractive errors, they can assess the health of the optic nerve, retina, and blood vessels through pupil dilation. They also provide glaucoma, ocular motility, and topography tests to detect any complications causing headaches. Regular eye exams can help you address eye strain and identify or prevent other conditions from worsening.
Consult your doctor
If you still get frequent headaches after getting the right glasses and reducing strain from visual activities, it may be time to book a medical consultation. The American Migraine Foundation and National Headache Foundation let you conveniently find headache specialists near you. These specialists will ask you to provide comprehensive information about your triggers and sensations. They may also perform tests like X-rays, blood tests, or eye exams to determine the underlying causes of your headaches and provide a treatment plan. If you make an appointment with a headache specialist, here are the ways that you can prepare ahead of time to gather useful information which will make your visit much more efficient and helpful.
Eye strain headaches can complicate everyday activities. Knowing how to ascertain and address its causes can help you immensely relieve your headaches, and have much less disruption to your day from those pesky intrusive headaches!
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