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Eyestrain Headaches

Identifying the Pain Caused by Eyestrain

Eyestrain headaches are common in people who often engage in intense and prolonged use of the eyes to perform certain activities such as reading, working with computers and driving long distances. The headaches one feels when the eyes are tired and overworked are just a symptom of asthenopia, or more commonly known as eyestrain.

What is eyestrain and how does it cause eyestrain headaches?

Asthenopia or eyestrain is a symptom of tired, overworked eyes. People usually experience this when they focus their eyes on a fixed object for long periods of time or if they try very hard to see through poor lighting conditions or directed or reflected glare. When the eyes get tired, there is discomfort around the eyes which is sometimes accompanied by a headache.

Eyestrain headaches usually come into play when we ignore the basic symptoms of eyestrain and continue with our activities. Headaches that accompany eyestrain are usually mild and dull in nature. They are felt on both sides of the head, around the temple area. This headache doesn’t give us the sensation of sharp or pounding pain like other types of headaches do, but it’s still quite uncomfortable and painful to those who experience it. The discomfort of headaches caused by eyestrain is fortunately manageable. However, in severe cases, one’s ability to work or concentrate on performing routine activities may be affected.

Headaches related to eyestrain can also be caused by underlying eye conditions such as refractive errors and difficulty in focusing, making it easier than usual for the eyes to get tired. The refractive errors and eye conditions that may result in eyestrain headaches are:

  • Presbyopia. The eyes have a difficult time focusing as the lens becomes harder and less flexible. This condition makes it difficult for people to focus their eyes quickly and properly, making them easily susceptible to eyestrain and the headaches that come with it.
  • Hyperopia. Also known as farsightedness, people with hyperopia have a hard time focusing on objects that are close to them. Reading and other daily activities require us to take a close look at things and when we have a tough time focusing, this may lead to eyestrain and headaches.
  • Astigmatism. This is a common eye condition wherein the shape of the cornea becomes irregular. People with astigmatism find it hard to focus on objects at certain angles. Those who have this condition often have to squint their eyes to focus properly, making it very easy to strain one’s eyes.

Treatment of Headaches Caused By Eyestrain

It is seldom necessary to resort to over-the-counter pain medications to relieve the pain brought about by eyestrain. To treat the headache, we must, first and foremost, treat the cause of the pain. This means giving the eyes a break upon the onset of the headache.

  • Closing one’s eyes and giving them a rest can often relieve the headache.
  • Massaging both temples with firm circular strokes can also relieve headaches caused by eyestrain.
  • If someone suffering from eyestrain headaches cannot take a break from their work, it is also advisable to adjust the room’s lighting conditions in order to put less stress on the eyes. Once the eyes have adjusted and are functioning normally with less strain, the headache will soon disappear.
  • Those with eye conditions can also prevent frequent headaches brought about by eyestrain by wearing prescription glasses and contact lens to correct their eye conditions, making their eyes less prone to tiredness and irritation that can cause eyestrain headaches.

If you’re experiencing any type of headache pain, schedule an appointment with one of our headache specialists immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.