Can Headaches Be Caused by Vision Problems?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/17/2022 - 11:21
man pinching nose due to headache from eyestrain

The pounding pain of a headache can be enough to derail the day. And if you’re experiencing headaches frequently, it might be time to consider whether your vision could be the cause of the problem. The link between vision problems and headaches is typically spurred on by eye-straining activities, but can also signal a more serious eye problem. Read on to learn the most common causes of vision-related headaches and how to treat them.

What Are Vision Headaches?

Unlike the average headache, a vision headache causes throbbing pain behind or around your eyes. Vision headaches can occur when you overwork the eyes by focusing on tasks for far too long without taking any breaks, or from staring at bright screens for long periods.

Signs That You’re Having a Vision Headache

Along with a throbbing sensation behind the eyes, vision-related headaches can lead to several other symptoms, including:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Temporary blurry vision
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Neck, shoulder, and back aches
  • Sore eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating

Headaches that lead to any of the additional problems listed above are most likely caused by a vision headache.

5 Causes of Vision Headaches

The best way to determine the cause of your headache is to think about what you were doing immediately before it occurred and read below to see which of these descriptions match your symptoms. These are the eye problems that are most commonly associated with vision headaches, along with the triggers that cause them.

Ocular Migraines

While ocular migraines aren’t considered a very serious condition, they can be alarming when they strike. An ocular migraine causes brief bouts of blindness (lasting about 10 to 20 minutes) or flashing lights in one of the eyes. It can also lead to nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Some of the common triggers include hormonal changes, stress, skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, and bright lights.

Eye Strain

In today’s technological world, eye strain is a very common cause of vision headaches. Eye strain happens when we stare at computers, smartphones, tablets, and any other bright light sources for too long. Whether at work, school, or home, staring at bright screens has become a normal part of our routines, making eye strain a common occurrence. You may experience blurry vision, itchiness, light sensitivity, or heaviness in the eyes. If you need to focus on screens for extended periods each day, try to take brief breaks every 20 minutes to readjust your eyes.

Prescription Problems

The quality of your vision can change over time, causing you to strain harder to see or read things. Major vision changes are easy to recognize, but even the smallest changes in vision can have a big impact on our eyes. If you haven’t had vision care in years, or recently received a new prescription that’s causing issues, you can visit the optometrist to get the adjustments you may need.

Monocular or Binocular Vision

Depth perception issues can stem from monocular and binocular vision, forcing the eyes to strain to make up for the vision imbalance. Monocular vision occurs when a person begins to rely on one eye to do the majority of the work, while binocular vision happens when both eyes have difficulty moving together. You can treat these conditions with eyeglasses, surgery, or eye muscle exercises to improve strength with vision therapy.

Eye Conditions

Vision headaches can also be brought on by other eye-related conditions, including cataracts, optical nerve problems, astigmatism, glaucoma, and temporal arteritis. These conditions will add additional symptoms into the mix, such as cloudy vision, red eyes, rainbow-colored halos around light sources, difficulty seeing at night, and more. If you’re worried about a deeper-related eye condition being the source of your vision headaches, consult with your optometrist for an examination.

How to Help Vision Headaches

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help minimize painful vision headaches. You can use artificial tears to eliminate dry eye disease, which can help alleviate eye strain. Closing your eyes can also help give them a much-needed rest from bright lights or screens. Also, check your prescription glasses to see if they are still giving you 20/20 vision.

If none of the steps above alleviate the number of vision headaches you have, please set up a vision care appointment and ask your doctor if an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is right for you.


When we focus our attention on a single task for too long, we risk getting vision headaches. In most cases, these headaches will go away on their own after a bit of time. However, if vision headaches are happening often and severely impacting your daily routine, you can set up a vision care appointment to discover the root cause of the problem.

Are you experiencing frequent vision headaches? Our eye care experts can diagnose the cause and deliver the treatments you may need.