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When to See an Eye Doctor For Headaches

When a patient experiences headaches specifically during close work, such as reading or using a computer, it is possible that they are suffering from an underlying eye condition. 

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When to See an Eye Doctor For Headaches Videos

Why your headaches may be an eye problem

Do you experience headaches when reading, using the computer, or doing close work? If so, it might be an eye problem causing the issue. In this blog, we will explain the relationship between headaches and eye problems and what you can do to find relief.

If you experience headaches almost exclusively when you use your eyes for close or detailed tasks or for long periods of time, especially when using the computer or phone, it is time to see your eye doctor. We can help you determine the cause of your headaches and provide a solution. If you are looking for an eye doctor,  and are not near an Amplify clinic, you might begin your search online by entering “eye doctor near me” or “optometrist near me”.

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Identifying the Cause of Your Headaches

When a patient presents with a chief complaint of headaches, we will take the time to understand when and under what circumstances the headaches occur. By asking questions and gathering information about the patient's daily activities and headache patterns, we aim to determine the root cause of the headaches.

If the headaches seem to happen randomly and in various situations, it may not be a result of an eye problem. However, if the headaches persist specifically when the patient engages in close work, such as reading, using the computer, or other detailed tasks, it is more likely to be an eye problem. The increased demand on the eyes during these tasks, as compared to activities such as gym class or sleeping, may be causing the headaches.

When a patient experiences headaches specifically during close work, such as reading or using a computer, it is possible that they are suffering from an underlying eye condition. Some common eye conditions that can cause headaches include:

Eye strain: Prolonged use of electronic devices or extended periods of close work can cause eye strain, leading to headaches.

Binocular Vision Dysfunction: When the eyes have trouble working together, they may become strained and overworked, leading to high levels of ocular stress and resulting in physical pain. Some examples of binocular vision problems include eye misalignment and convergence insufficiency. 

Refractive Errors: Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, can cause the eyes to work harder to focus, leading to eye strain and headaches.

Presbyopia: As we age, the lens in our eyes loses its ability to adjust to different focus distances, causing headaches and eye strain when reading or doing close work.

Dry eyes: Dry eyes can cause eye irritation and discomfort, leading to headaches.

By identifying the specific eye condition causing the headaches, we can provide an effective treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms and improve the patient's overall eye health.

Common symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction 

Common symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction 

Binocular Vision Dysfunction is a condition where an individual cannot keep a visual focus on an object with both eyes to create a single image. While headaches are one of the common symptoms that indicate binocular vision problems, especially when they present after near work such as reading, using a computer, or long periods of time on the phone, there are many different symptoms that can arise from binocular vision problems. 

The following symptoms result from the failure of the two images from both eyes to combine into one image in the brain:

  • Abnormal postural or positional adaptations: This refers to changes in posture or position due to the difficulty in focusing with both eyes.
  • Fatigue: Individuals may experience fatigue as a result of their eyes straining to focus.
  • Avoidance of reading or near tasks: This can be due to the difficulty in maintaining focus on close-up tasks.
  • Blurred vision (near or far): This can occur when the eyes cannot combine the two images into one clear image.
  • Closing or covering one eye during computer or reading: This may happen as a way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the strain on the eyes.
  • Clumsiness and lack of coordination: Binocular Vision Dysfunction can cause difficulty with coordination due to the difficulty in combining visual information from both eyes.
  • Difficulty maintaining near focus and visual function: This refers to the difficulty in focusing on near objects and tasks.
  • Dizziness: The failure of the two images to combine into one image can cause dizziness.
  • Double vision: This occurs when two separate images are seen instead of one combined image.
  • Eye strain, often from prolonged near-focused tasks like computer use or reading: This is a result of the eyes straining to maintain focus for prolonged periods of time.
  • Fatigue while reading: Individuals may experience fatigue while reading due to the difficulty in maintaining focus on close-up tasks.
  • Headaches: This is a common symptom of Binocular Vision Dysfunction due to the strain on the eyes.
  • Peripheral vision appearing to move, when it's not: This can be a result of the difficulty in combining visual information from both eyes.
  • Lightheadedness: This may be a result of the dizziness caused by Binocular Vision Dysfunction.
  • Motion sickness, car sickness: This can be a result of the difficulty in combining visual information with information from the vestibular system, which controls balance.
  • Moving head side to side while reading: This may occur as a way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the strain on the eyes.
  • Nausea: This may be a result of the dizziness caused by Binocular Vision Dysfunction.
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity): This is a sensitivity to light that can be a result of the strain on the eyes.
  • Poor depth perception: This occurs when the eyes cannot combine the two images into one image with proper depth perception.
  • Rereading for comprehension: This may occur due to the difficulty in maintaining focus on close-up tasks.
  • Shadowed vision (letters or words appear shadowed): This can occur when the eyes cannot combine the two images into one clear image.
  • Skipping lines or losing place while reading: This may happen due to the difficulty in maintaining focus on close-up tasks.
  • Using a finger as a guide when reading: This may be used as a way to maintain focus on close-up tasks.
  • Vestibular issues (balance problems): This can occur as a result of the difficulty in combining visual information with information from the vestibular system, which controls balance.
  • Walking into door frames, furniture edges, etc.: This can occur due to the difficulty in combining visual information from both eyes for proper depth perception.
  • Words appearing to run together while reading: This may occur due to the difficulty of maintaining focus or combining images from each eye in the brain.
Treating Your Headaches: Discovering the Root Cause Through Eye Tests with Your Optometrist

Treating Your Headaches: Discovering the Root Cause Through Eye Tests with Your Optometrist

We understand the importance of accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of your headaches. That's why, during your appointment, we will perform comprehensive eye exams and testing to determine the type of eye problem you may have.

Some of the tests that may be performed include:

Visual Acuity Test: This test measures your ability to see clearly at different distances.

Refraction Test: This test measures the way light is bent when it enters your eye, helping to determine if you have any refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

Visual Field Test: This test measures the peripheral vision to determine if there are any blind spots or visual field defects.

Retinal Exam: This test allows our optometrists to examine the back of the eye, including the retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels.

Sensorimotor Evaluation: A basic sensorimotor exam evaluates ocular range of motion to determine if the eyes move together in the various cardinal positions of gaze.

If the initial evaluation determines that there is a suspected binocular vision problem then further testing will be done.

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What is tested if the suspected cause is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

What is tested if the suspected cause is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Based on the results of these tests, the optometrist will be able to determine the specific eye condition causing your headaches and provide an effective treatment plan. If your eye doctors suspect that your headaches are caused by a binocular vision issue, they will recommend further testing. During a Binocular Vision Assessment, your eye doctor evaluates several aspects of vision, including:

  • Visual acuity: This measures the clarity and sharpness of vision at both near and far distances.
  • Fusion: Fusion refers to the ability of the brain to combine the two separate images from the two eyes into one image.
  • Convergence: This measures the ability of the eyes to turn inward and focus on a near object.
  • Accommodation: Accommodation measures the ability of the eyes to adjust the focus to different distances.
  • Depth perception (3D): This measures the ability to perceive depth and distance.
  • Stereopsis: This measures the ability to see in 3D and judge the relative distance of objects.
  • Vergence: This measures the ability of the eyes to turn towards or away from each other in response to distance.
  • Ocular motility: This measures the ability of the eyes to move smoothly and accurately in all directions.
  • Ocular posture: This measures the position and alignment of the eyes.
  • Tracking: This measures the ability of the eyes to follow a moving object.
  • Visual processing speed: This measures the speed at which visual information is processed and interpreted.
  • Visual perception: This measures the ability to interpret and understand visual information.
  • Visual-motor integration: This measures the coordination between the eyes and hand movements.
  • Spatial awareness / planning: This measures the ability to orient oneself in space and plan movements.
  • Working memory: This measures the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind.
  • Presence of conditions that affect binocular vision functioning: This assesses if any conditions such as strabismus, amblyopia, or TBI affect the binocular vision functioning.
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Common Questions

Headaches due to eyesight problems, such as refractive errors or eye strain, often accompany symptoms like squinting, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, or discomfort when performing visual tasks. If your headache subsides after resting your eyes or ceases when you're not involved in visually demanding activities, it may be related to your eyesight. However, only a comprehensive examination by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose the cause.
Yes, if you're frequently experiencing headaches, particularly after visually intensive tasks, it's advisable to see an eye doctor. They can determine whether your headaches are related to eye strain, need for glasses, or an underlying eye condition. Regular eye examinations are essential in catching any potential issues early and managing them effectively.
A tension headache, one of the most common types of headache, often presents as a dull, aching sensation all over your head, including behind your eyes. However, cluster headaches are a more severe form and are typically felt intensely behind one eye or along your temple. It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional or an eye specialist to diagnose and treat persistent headaches accurately.

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