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Headaches and Eye Problems

Do eye problems cause headaches?

Headaches are a very common health problem. They can have many different causes.

Sometimes eye problems cause headaches. For example, if you need reading glasses and read for a long time without glasses or with glasses that are too weak you may develop eye strain and a headache. Also, you may have a headache from reading or doing close work if your eyes are misaligned. That is, certain eye muscles may be too weak to align the eyes up close. This weakness can sometimes be treated with eye muscle exercises.

Some serious diseases of the eye can cause a headache along with eye pain. Very high eye pressure or inflammation in the eye can cause headaches with eye pain.

What else causes headaches?

The most common cause of headaches is scalp and neck muscle contraction. Tension, anxiety, strain, stress, fatigue, and depression may all bring about sudden or gradual muscle contraction and pain.

Migraine headaches are another common type of headache. Migraines can be more severe than muscle contraction headaches. They are caused by changes in the blood vessels and blood flow in the head. Many patients are sensitive to light, and may also feel nauseated.

Headaches can also be caused by many diseases and disorders affecting other parts of the body. For example, ear problems, jaw problems, sinus problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, nerve diseases, blood vessel disease, and even tumors and aneurysms can cause headaches.

How are headaches diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Tell your healthcare provider if you have severe, frequent, or ongoing headaches.

Depending on your headache symptoms, your provider may recommend tests to check for other, more serious causes of your symptoms.

How are headaches treated?

Treatment for headaches varies, depending on the cause. If it appears that your headaches are caused by eye problems, you may be referred to an eye care provider. You may need new glasses or contact lenses.

If you have a severe headache along with a droopy eyelid and sometimes double vision, it could be a sign of a rare, but very serious condition that could be life threatening. You should get medical care right away.

How can I help prevent headaches caused by eye problems?

Make sure that your eyeglass prescription is up to date, and that you wear glasses if you need them. Have regular checkups with your eye care provider.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-07-20
Last reviewed: 2010-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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