Headaches are prevalent, and they can happen at any time. Research shows that half of the population has struggled with a headache at least once in the past year, and 30% of these individuals have had migraines. There are different reasons why people experience headaches, and sometimes, they can be related to eye strain. When you have an eye strain headache, you may be experiencing more symptoms. Let’s take a look at what this type of headache is, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

What is an Eye Strain Headache?

An eye strain headache is a type of headache that happens due to strain on your eyes. Eye strain occurs when you overuse your eyes. Extended use of technological devices such as computers or smartphones can cause strain on your eyes. Long-distance driving and reading with bad lighting can also stress the eyes.

Types of Eye Strain

Nowadays, doctors classify these eye conditions as either regular eye strain or “digital” eye strain which is primarily due to prolonged use of gadgets such as tablets and laptops.

The term “digital” refers to the fact that the majority of the complaints about an eye strain headache are linked to exposure to digital screens. We spend a lot of time on social media, playing games, or doing online work - all of which are done using digital technology.

Signs of Eye Strain Headache

A headache is the main symptom that comes with this problem, but other signs can help you determine if it’s related to eye strain. For example, you may find that you have a headache and blurry vision. This could be a sign that your eyes are getting tired from being overused.

Other signs that you have eye strain can include:

  • Your eyes feel dry and itchy, and you may even have a stinging (or burning) sensation in your eyes.
  • Apart from blurry vision, some people experience double vision as well.
  • Your back, neck, and shoulders may begin to hurt, which can be related to your posture while using a computer.

As your eye strain headache develops, you’ll also find that it affects your ability to properly concentrate.

Ocuvital

Eye Strain Headache Causes

Understanding the causes of an eye strain headache is important. This will help you recognize the factors that are contributing to these headaches. Knowing what affects your eye condition can help you determine the necessary steps to stop these headaches.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common reasons why people experience these headaches:

  • Prolonged use of digital screens: Long periods of screen time, especially without any breaks, are not healthy. In that case, you are essentially “overusing” your eyes which can result in strain and the development of the headache. Many studies refer to this as the common cause of digital eye strain.

  • Prolonged focus on a single task: There are activities other than screen time where you can develop eye strain. Engaging in a specific task for long periods such as reading can sometimes result in this type of strain and headache. This occurs when you’re not giving your eyes enough rest.

  • Vision problems: If you have existing problems with your vision, then it can be the reason for your eye strain headache. This especially accounts for when you’re not wearing prescription or corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses, or the right reading glasses.

  • Bright or dim lights: Bad lighting in your environment can also affect your eyes. When the lights are too bright or dimmed, your eyes work harder causing them to strain.

What are the Risk Factors for Eye Strain Headaches?

The major risk factor for an eye strain headache is screen time. If you work on a computer every day and use your phone screen regularly, it could impact your eye condition and your risk of developing headaches increases.

As mentioned above, digital screens are not the only visual stress factor. Prolonged reading with bad lighting conditions, long-distance driving with no breaks, and exposure of your eyes to bright lights can contribute to an eye strain headache.

Eye Strain Headache Prevention Tips

Understanding the causes of eye pressure pain and headaches associated with eye strain is essential. Furthermore, knowing how to prevent this can make you more productive having not to worry about a headache interfering with your daily activities.

One of the best ways to prevent an eye strain headache is to limit how long your screen time will be in a single session. Be sure to take regular breaks or off-screen time to give your eyes the needed rest. Take a few moments to enjoy pleasant sceneries such as your garden or nature to refresh your eyes. Taking these steps should lessen the frequency of your eye strain headaches.

Make sure you get enough sleep, as poor sleep may contribute to headaches and could make eye strain more intense. Hydration, a healthy diet, and making sure you get the right nutrients to support eye health are also important factors. Apart from these, an eye checkup with an ophthalmologist should also help. These eye specialists can determine the specific causes of your eye strain and help you better understand your symptoms.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule

There are several things you can do if you’re struggling with eye pain and headache symptoms together. If it happens frequently, then the 20-20-20 rule might be just what you need to reduce your eye strain.

This rule helps to reduce the amount of strain digital screens put on your eyes. It works like this: after 20 minutes of screen time, you’ll look away and find something that’s about 20 feet away from you, and focus on that object for 20 seconds.

The 20-20-20 rule[1] is great if you often have an eye strain headache. There are also other things you can do to further reduce your risk of developing these headaches:

  • Blink often: Blinking is something that happens unconsciously and plays a really important role in preventing dryness in your eyes. You can, however, try to blink more often while working on a computer or when using your phone to reduce your risk of excessive eye strain.

  • Avoid using screens in the dark: It might be tempting to lie in bed and play a game on your phone before you sleep, but looking at a screen while you’re in the dark can increase the strain on your eyes.

  • Adjust your screen: Most modern devices come with “eye-friendly” screen modes. Putting your gadgets on these modes, or at least making some adjustments to the screen's brightness should lessen the strain on your eyes.

  • Use proper lighting: The lighting in your environment can also make a difference. If you feel pressure behind eye or have a headache due to your eye strain, work on the lighting in the area.

  • Avoid prolonged use of contact lenses: Contact lenses can be very useful if you prefer them over your eyeglasses. However, they can irritate your eyes and sometimes even lead to dryness if you wear them for too long. Avoid using them, especially if an eye pain headache occurs to you regularly.

How to Treat Eye Strain Headaches?

Taking a break from the screen, which is one of the main eye pain causes, can be a great way to treat these headaches.

When an eye strain headache strikes, take your eyes off the computer monitor or phone screen. Focus on something else. Some people find that closing their eyes for a while also helps. You can also take an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to reduce the pain and help you get back to being productive.

Taking proper care of your eyes should also be a priority. Eating eye-friendly foods such as nuts, fruits, and green leafy vegetables can help you keep your eyes healthy. Moreover, taking eye supplements such as the Ocuvital Eye Health Supplement is also an excellent strategy that gives you access to crucial vitamins and minerals for better eye health and eyesight.

FAQ’s

What’s the connection between eyestrain and a headache?

When your eyes overwork, your eye muscles and even your optic nerves have to work harder than normal. When this happens, your eyes are strained which can then contribute to headaches.

How common is eye strain headache?

It’s not as common as some of the other causes of headaches. However, it’s still something that some people experience regularly, especially if they’re spending too much time with digital screens.

How can you tell if your headache is caused by your eyes?

In addition to eye strain headaches, some people complain about pain behind the eyes. When these two conditions occur together, they can bring discomfort which could affect your productivity.

Conclusion

When you spend too much time on your computer, television, phone screen, or even your book, you could be straining your eyes. This may lead to an eye strain headache, which can be uncomfortable. Minimizing the visual stress you put in your eyes is an effective way to avoid getting this type of headache. Furthermore, an eye-friendly diet and supplement can improve the eye’s condition and overall health. If your eye strain headaches persist, it is best to consult an eye expert for proper medical advice.

References

1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36473088/

Amr

Amr

Amr is a 29-year-old pharmacist who has established himself as an experienced medical content writer. He holds a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the esteemed Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University. Amr's passion for writing stemmed from his interest in healthcare, and he combined his knowledge of the medical field with his creative flair to become a proficient content writer. Throughout his career, Amr has worked on various projects, including medical articles, research papers, and informative blog posts for clients in the healthcare industry. He has a comprehensive understanding of medical terminology and can translate complex medical jargon into easily understandable language for the general public. Amr's dedication to his craft is reflected in the quality of his work, and his attention to detail ensures that each piece of content he writes is accurate, informative, and engaging. When he's not working, Amr enjoys reading about the latest advancements in healthcare and spending time with his loved ones.

Education

  • Bachelor of pharmacy from Alexandria university
  • 2012-2017

Work Experience

  • Pharmacist - Al Azaby Pharmacies 2012-2014
  • Pharmacist – Khalil Pharmacies 2014-present
Written by Amr

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