For many people, headaches can be a symptom of uncorrected vision problems. This doesn’t happen in all cases of uncorrected or undiagnosed vision problems, and of course not all headaches are caused by vision problems, but the connection is a significant one — just one more reason why regular eye exams are important!
In this age of technology, many of us spend hours and hours on a work computer or a smart phone. As convenient as these devices are, they are also the main culprits behind eye strain, which has symptoms like tired, aching eyes, blurred vision, and even frequent headaches.
But even if your screens aren’t the problem, eye strain still might be. Uncorrected visual acuity problems like astigmatism, hyperopia, and presbyopia can all put a lot of strain on the eyes. With astigmatism, the cornea is an abnormal shape, bending light in strange ways and causing a lot of squinting, which can contribute to headaches.
Hyperopia or farsightedness occurs when the eye focuses images behind the retina instead of directly on it, making close objects appear blurred. This can make reading smaller print a literal headache. The same applies to presbyopia, which can affect many people who have never needed glasses before. As we age, the lenses in our eyes become less flexible, which makes it harder to focus on near objects.
If a child has frequent headaches, undiagnosed vision problems could be responsible, even if they read the letters on the big E chart in the school nurse’s office with no trouble. Comprehensive eye exams with the eye doctor will determine whether there are any other vision problems causing headaches or difficulty in school, and then we can plan the best way to treat them.
For most of us, changes in our vision can be so gradual that we may not notice that our glasses aren’t helping as much as they used to for quite a while. In most cases where headaches are connected to eye problems, a simple updated glasses or contact lens prescription may do the trick.
Unfortunately, not every case of headaches related to eye problems is as simple as needing a new prescription. Headaches can also be a symptom of glaucoma, an eye disease characterized by building pressure against the optic nerve that leads to vision loss. Cataracts, too, can cause headaches. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye, gradually obscuring vision.
You might think that you would notice if you had an eye problem, but our eyes and brains work hard to compensate when something goes wrong, so it’s harder to recognize than you might expect. If you haven’t found an explanation for your frequent headaches, it might be a good idea to cross eye problems off the list by scheduling your next appointment with us.