Do visually demanding activities leave you with an uncomfortable headache? If so, you are not alone. Occasionally, certain eye conditions can cause eye strain and result in headaches, which can last from a few minutes to hours at a time. Most cases of vision-related headaches are simple problems that can be fixed with glasses, contacts, or vision therapy. However, in rare cases, some vision-associated headaches can be due to conditions that carry significant health risks and warrant immediate attention. If you or a loved one frequently experiences headaches that you think may be related to your vision, continue reading to learn more about the most common ocular causes.
One of the more common eye-related causes of headaches is hyperopia, also known as farsightedness. Hyperopia is a form of refractive error in which objects up close may appear blurrier than objects in the distance. The symptoms of hyperopia may be difficult to notice, because in many cases, particularly young people affected by hyperopia, the focusing system of the eye is strong enough to overcome the blurriness at near. When too much demand is placed on the focusing system in order to overcome the eye’s natural farsightedness, the visual system becomes strained and headaches may occur. Similarly, headaches can be caused by presbyopia, which is a form of farsightedness than affects most people around the age of 40 and causes blurred near vision. Headaches caused by farsightedness and presbyopia can oftentimes be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam, and many cases can be alleviated by an accurate glasses prescription.
Eye strain can also be caused by vision problems that are slightly more complex than farsightedness. The term “binocular vision” refers to how efficiently and accurately the eyes work together. There are many potential binocular vision problems that can arise, resulting in eye strain and headaches. Binocular vision problems, inaccurate accommodation or convergence, can stem from dysfunction in the focusing system of the eyes or ocular misalignment, and can cause eyestrain in a variety of visually demanding activities. While some problems in binocular vision and the resulting symptoms can be eased with specialized glasses prescriptions, other conditions may require vision therapy to properly address. A comprehensive eye examination can determine whether a binocular vision problem is causing your headaches and advise on the best way to address these problems.
Rarely, ocular-related headaches can be a sign of a more serious health condition that warrants further medical attention. For instance, many people will experience a headache along with blurred vision and eye pain in an episode of acute angle closure glaucoma. If you experience symptoms of this rare, sudden-onset form of glaucoma, visit an eye care professional immediately. An increase in intracranial pressure can cause headaches that are typically accompanied by strange visual disturbances; this condition should be evaluated fully by a neurologist. Additional neurological problems, such as tumors or aneurysms, can cause significant and intense headaches, and should be addressed immediately by a medical professional.