Are Your Headaches Related to Your Vision?

Eye Physician Boston, MA

There are hundreds of types of headaches and even more possible causes of head pain. Many headache disorders, including migraine disease, tension-type headaches and cluster headaches, produce eye symptoms. Sometimes your headache isn’t the culprit behind vision concerns. Instead, an issue with your eyes could be the cause of your headaches. In a prospective study in the 1990s, 10 percent of headaches were attributed to an ocular basis.

Eyestrain Caused by Headaches & Headaches Caused by Eyestrain 

Eyestrain can be both the cause of headaches and a symptom. Many people who experience migraine attacks can reduce their head pain by improving eyestrain. Likewise, overusing your eyes could lead to a headache. When your eyes are tired from intense focus long-term, you can experience eyestrain, which causes watery eyes, blurry vision, eye soreness or itchiness, dry eyes, double vision, neck and shoulder pain and, of course, headaches. 

You can reduce overuse-related eyestrain by resting your eyes when working at a computer or close-up task and taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. This 20-20-20 rule can ease your eye discomfort and may improve your headaches. 

Severe Eye Diseases & When to Seek Help 

Many eye concerns may lead to headaches, but two that are considered medical emergencies include angle-closure glaucoma and giant cell arteritis (GCA). While it is rare that your headache would be linked to eye disease, sudden head pain coupled with vision changes should never be ignored. 

Angle-closure glaucoma happens when the front part of your eye suddenly fills with fluid and stops the normal drainage flow that regulates intraocular pressure. This blockage causes a sudden spike in eye pressure accompanied by severe eye pain and headache. You may feel sick to your stomach, and your vision will change. Seek medical attention immediately to save your eyesight. 

GCA occurs when the arteries along your temple swell suddenly, reducing blood supply to the eye and causing a constant headache with throbbing pain. You’ll likely have decreased vision and scalp tenderness. GCA is more common in older adults and requires medical care immediately to prevent vision loss. 

When headaches and vision changes are linked, there can be many potential causes ranging from eye concerns to ear problems, tumors, nerve disease, high blood pressure and sinus problems. However, you need to be aware that these two symptoms can be a sign of a stroke. If your headache and blurry eyesight come with a drooping eyelid and double vision, seek medical help right away. 

Schedule Your Eye Exam in Boston 

If you struggle with ongoing vision changes and headaches, our eye doctors can help narrow down the possible causes with a comprehensive eye exam at our Boston office. Schedule your appointment at Boston Eye Physicians and Surgeons today.