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The Link Between Eye Health and Headaches

Given the location of your eyes, it makes sense that some headaches may be related to eye health issues, but the connection is bidirectional — certain headaches can lead to eye pain, such as migraines and cluster headaches. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on headaches that are symptoms of underlying eye disorders only.

To help you determine whether your headaches may be a result of an eye health problem, the team here at Suburban Eye Associates pulled together the following information.

Vision issues

If your vision is changing and you’re straining to focus on objects that are near to you or off in the distance, this could lead to secondary headaches as your eyes struggle to see clearly. The best cure for this is to see us regularly for comprehensive eye exams so that we can correct your vision.


If you develop cataracts, your eyes have to work harder to see through cloudy lenses. This strain can lead to headaches, which we can resolve by treating your cataracts.

Angle-closure glaucoma

If you experience sudden and severe eye pain along with head pain, this could be a sign of angle-closure glaucoma, which is a rare form of glaucoma. This is a serious problem that occurs when fluid in your eye is unable to drain, which raises the pressure in your eye to dangerous levels. If this occurs, seek immediate emergency care.

Idiopathic intracranial pressure and papilledema 

While rare, idiopathic intracranial pressure can lead to severe head pain, especially behind your eyes, as pressure builds inside your skull. The term “idiopathic,” means that there’s no known cause for this condition.

Also uncommon, papilledema is a condition in which your optic nerve swells as a result of pressure buildup in your brain.

With both of these conditions, early detection and intervention are key to resolving your pain and preserving your vision. 

Eye strain

If you add up the hours you find yourself staring at a screen, you might be surprised. In fact, one study found that Americans spend more time in front of a smartphone, computer, TV, or tablet than they do sleeping — almost eight hours!

The problem with excessive screen time is that your eyes are focused at one distance for long periods, which can strain the muscles. As well, people tend to blink less when they’re looking at a screen.

As a result, you may experience digital eye strain, which can lead to headaches. To fight back, we recommend that you take frequent breaks from the screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look up and focus on something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

If you want to determine whether your headaches may be related to a problem in your eyes, we urge you to come see us for a comprehensive evaluation. To get started, simply contact one of our locations in Huntingdon Valley, Jenkintown, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to set up an appointment.

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