Vision and Headaches: How Different Types of Headaches Affect Your Vision

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 26-Jul-2013

tensionheadachesmThe optic nerve connects the eyes to the brain. This nerve sends signals from the eye to the brain. If vision is disrupted, it may result in eye pain or headaches.

Eye aches/Eye pain --Pressure in the head is a common source of eye pain. Chronic sinusitis is one condition that causes a buildup of pressure in the face and head, resulting in eye pain.

Headaches are another common cause of eye pain. Cluster headaches and migraines are two forms of severe headaches, which often cause eye pain for the sufferer.

Cluster Headaches --The least common type of headache, affecting less than one in 1,000 people. A cluster headache is a headache that recurs over a period of time. If you are experiencing a cluster headache, you may experience head pain episodes one to three times a day during the “cluster period.” This period of time may last days, weeks or even a few months.

Cluster headaches occur very regularly, often at the same time each day. They are often triggered by seasons (particularly spring and fall). Cluster headaches are also more common for individuals who drink alcohol excessively or smoke.

Cluster headaches are often more painful than a migraine and can be so painful they interrupt sleep, which interferes with the body’s natural rhythm and “biological clock”. Cluster headaches may go into “remission” for several months or even years, but may recur again.

Cluster headaches affect the trigeminal nerve, which is the main nerve of the face, responsible for sensations. When the nerve is activated during a cluster headache, it results in pain behind one eye or in the eye region on one side. Pain may radiate to the forehead, temple, nose, cheek, or upper gum of the affected side. Other symptoms include tearing, redness, nasal congestion and discharge.

Treatment options for cluster headaches include: pain medication, oxygen treatment, and potentially surgery.

Migraines --Migraines are a common form of headache, affecting one in 10 Americans and one in six women. Migraine pain is often described as throbbing our pounding pain on one side of the head, though they may affect the whole head.

Other symptoms of a migraine include, sensitivity to light, noise and odors; blurred vision; nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; paleness; fatigue; dizziness; bright flashes or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines in vision. These bright flashes of light, or wavy or jagged lines in vision are called “aura.” In many cases, they occur about 20 minutes to an hour before the pain occurs.

Migraines can be triggered by certain foods, lack of sleep, anxiety and stress or hormones. Flickering lights, bright fluorescent lights, movie or TV screens, or reflection on snow or water can also set them off. Some people find that wearing polarizing sunglasses outside and using daylight spectrum fluorescent light bulbs inside help prevent the onset of a migraine.

Common treatment for migraines include over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. Some sufferers find that drinking a limited amount of caffeine (one to two cups) may also help reduce migraine pain. Acupuncture has also proven to be a beneficial alternative treatment for migraine headaches.

If you suffer from frequent headaches that disrupt your vision or cause eye pain, it is important to contact your primary care physician as well as your eye doctor as these could be symptoms of a neurological problem. It is important to rule out any other potential causes of your eye pain or vision problems. Your doctor will be able to prescribe treatment to reduce your pain and clear up your vision. In some cases, headaches may be triggered by poor vision. A comprehensive eye exam will help determine if your vision problems are a cause or symptom of your headaches.

Contact the eye doctors at Key-Whitman to schedule your comprehensive exam from one of our four locations in Dallas, Plano, North Arlington and South Arlington.

Categories: Eye Health
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