Health + Prevention

Why can vision problems be the cause of headaches?

Millions of people suffer from headaches. No ailment is so widespread. What many people don't know is that a new pair of glasses can help.

1 January 2022
  • close up of african young woman touching her head

Dull pressure behind the eyes, throbbing in the temples or a light pounding at the top of the head – there is hardly anyone who has not suffered from headaches. Many people just reach for a tablet, while others sit it out until the pain goes away on its own. Many sufferers could be helped if they went to an optometrist to have their vision tested because when you don't see well and should ideally be wearing glasses, you will often suffer from headaches.

It's as if your brain has come loose and knocks against your skull every time you move. This is how people suffering from headaches often describe their symptoms. Millions of people worldwide – women, men and children – regularly suffer from painful numbing or pressure or sharp piercing pains which affect their concentration at work, in school and the amount of strain the family can cope with. Finding a remedy means improving your quality of life. And that is often easier than most people think because a visual impairment is frequently the cause of headaches.

Farsightedness (hyperopia), in particular, strains the eyes causing headaches when left uncorrected. Often you get both after reading or using the computer for a long time. This is because it is especially tiring for farsighted people to hold images in sharp focus. In trying to see clearly, the lens has to adjust (accommodation). The biggest problem is that many people are farsighted without knowing it because their eyes can make up for it to a certain degree. The constant effort or straining to always see sharp causes headaches, which are then often not linked back to problems with the eyes.

Less common but also a cause for headaches is an undiagnosed, but latent strabismus. To see clearly, people with strabismus must put their eyes under enormous strain to keep them parallel.

Typical symptoms of headaches that can occur due to farsightedness or a slight strabismus often only appear after a while, particularly just after long reading sessions or long hours spent on the computer. If headaches then occur or you get double vision or your vision goes blurry temporarily, it is probably due to vision problems. A thorough eye test at the optometrist can determine whether farsightedness or strabismus is the cause.

The good news is: a perfectly fitted pair of glasses with spectacle lenses individually suited to the wearer can correct farsightedness with optimum results. Headaches will then quickly be a thing of the past. Latent strabismus can also be treated with glasses that have prescription prism lenses (special form of eye measurement for prescribing prism glasses).

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