Do the eyes ever cause Headaches?

by Dr. Robert Benza, MD 28. February 2014 09:10

Dr. Robert Benza

We see many patients on a weekly basis who come to the office with a complaint of headaches.  They often want to know if their eyes could be the problem.  There are certain circumstances when there can be a connection.  The history of the headache is very important.   We often want to know the location of the headache, frequency and pattern.   Pattern is important to help determine whether the eyes play a role.  If a college student complains of headaches only after 3 or 4 hours of studying and never gets them other times of the day,  eye strain could play a role.   We also want to do a good ocular exam.  If a patient has a significantly elevated eye pressure,  this could cause headache as well as pain around the eye.  In addition,  we check the pupils, eye movements and the posterior portion of the eye to make sure there is no swelling or pressure from a lesion.
There are many other causes of headaches.   Sinus headaches are common and often present with pressure around the eyes.  Many of these patients are referred back to their primary care physician for sinus x-rays and possible treatment. Significant allergies can present with ocular discomfort or a form of headache.  Some of these patients will also report
"itching" with their eyes.  Itching is a classic sign for an allergic cause.   Temporal arteritis is a condition which occurs typically in patients over age 50 and can be associated with headache, visual loss, etc.  This is more complicated and I will write a future blog just on this topic.
In summary,  there are a variety of causes for headache.  We only touched on a few of the causes where the eyes can play a role.  Do not hesitate to see your primary care physician and/or eye physician if headache symptoms occur.  Remember, protect those eyes!

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