Headaches

Do you suffer from headaches?  Your headaches may have something to do with your eyes.  

A headache refers to any type of pain of the head.  More often, headaches are not serious and can have many triggering factors.  Headaches can be triggered by stress, certain foods, alcohol, or being tired.  Headaches can also be related to your eyes.  There are different causes and types of headaches which include tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines.    
  
Tension headaches occur when there is tightness in the neck and scalp.  There may be pressure or dull pain in the forehead, temples, around your eyes, or in the neck.  Feeling nervous, anxiety, or depression can lead to muscle tightness and pain.  Other causes of tension headaches include sitting or sleeping in an uncomfortable position; grinding your teeth while sleeping or chewing gum; or reading or doing up close work.  Most tension headaches go away within a few hours.  People may get relief with over-the-counter pain relievers.  

Cluster headaches cause more severe pain on one side of the head.  Watery, red eyes may be associated with these headaches.  Cluster headaches can come about all of a sudden and last up to 2 hours, and can occur daily for a month or two.  Visit your doctor to see if prescription medication may be able to help you.  

Migraines are a common type of headache affecting 1 out of 10 people.  Migraine sufferers may have a strong family history.  Migraines can cause severe pain and the pain is often a throbbing pain on one side of the head.  Migraines can last for hours to days and worsen upon movement. Sometimes people have visual symptoms with migraines and see flashes of light, zig zag lines, or colored lights.  There are several things that can trigger migraines.  Triggers include wine cheese, chocolate, MSG, artificial sweeteners, sleeping problems, hormone changes, stress, anxiety, lights, temperature changes, or smells.

Headaches and your eyes

Eye strain is caused when the muscles around your eyes work harder than normal.  Eye strain can occur from tiredness and using your eyes for long periods of time.  Reading, staring at a computer, or doing up close work can cause eye strain.  Eyestrain can be caused by an uncorrected prescription error such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.  These conditions can be corrected with a prescription for eyeglasses, contact lenses. 

Headaches can also be caused by an eye disease called angle-closure glaucoma.  This occurs when fluid in the front part the eye builds up and increases the eye pressure.  Angle-closure glaucoma can cause changes in vision and is a medical emergency.  

Giant cell arteritis is another medical emergency that can cause a severe headache and vision loss.   Giant cell arteritis causes swelling of the arteries along the temple and results in decreased vision, scalp tenderness, and a throbbing pain of the temples.  This is an emergency that needs to be treated immediately.  

The most serious symptom of headache can be from a stroke.  A stroke causes reduced or blocked blood flow to the brain.  Other signs of a stroke include double vision or a droopy eyelid.  Get medical attention immediately if these symptoms occur. 

Headaches could be a sign of a serious medical condition.  These are just a few conditions that could be caused by headaches.  If you suffer from headaches, you should see your medical doctor and your eye doctor.  A comprehensive eye exam can reveal many reasons for your headaches, and even if the headaches are not related to your eyes, it’s a good idea to get your eye health checked regularly.  While most headaches aren’t necessarily caused by vision problems, it is important to get your eyes check on a regular basis to make sure.

Chelsea Eye Associates