Treatment of Eye Strain Headaches

Eyestrain is an extremely common condition that occurs in the standard workplace. Research shows that 50% to 90% of office employees who work with computers suffer from it. Aside from general stress, it is one of the leading causes of headaches. It can damper professional productivity and put a damper on your day. But what exactly are eye strain headaches? What causes them, and can it be prevented? What are possible treatments for eye strain headaches? The following article answers all of your questions about eye strain headaches and possible treatment.

What are Eye Strain Headaches?

The eye’s anatomy is made up of six extraocular muscles and a ciliary body. These muscles and parts assist in eye movement, placement, and focus. If the eye is focused on any one thing for an extended period of time, the ciliary body and muscles may experience fatigue. When any or all of these muscles in the eyes feel tired, stressed, sore, or strained, the condition is called eye strain. Eye strain is usually not a serious condition and tends to regress over time when the eyes are finally able to rest from strenuous activities.

However, if the eyes are overused and regularly abused, chronic problems can set in, especially with increased age. Depending on how frequently and severely eye strain occurs, there is a risk of decreased ability to focus well on close objects, as the ciliary body and muscles become weak and overworked.

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Sometimes intense pain caused by eye strain can be an indication of an underlying eye problem or condition that should be checked out and treated by your family ophthalmologist.

What Triggers Eyestrain Headaches?

Eye strain headaches can be triggered by a number of various activities. One of the most common causes of eye strain headaches today is extended computer usage on a daily basis. This can be a challenge to combat, as most occupations require employees to sit and work at a computer for up to eight hours each day. Though permanent eye damage may occur (but is not a very common consequence), temporary visual aches, headaches and pains are annoying and inconvenient to have to deal with on a daily basis.

Other causes of eye strain headaches are:

  • Driving long distances
  • Driving at night
  • Watching television
  • Playing electronic games
  • Using other computer tablets and devices
  • Prolonged reading
  • Straining to see in dim light

Eye strain headaches can also be caused by over-exerting the eyes to read small print when a prescription glasses to see more clearly may be needed. In this case, an eye examination is recommended.

How do I Know my Headaches are Caused by Eye Strain?

If you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms, along with headaches, you can suspect that your headache is caused by eye strain:

  • Tired eyes
  • Sore, achy eyes
  • A burning sensation in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Sore neck
  • Sore back
  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A severe, noticeable change in vision

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are preventative measures that can be taken and/or treatment which can be sought after.

What are some Treatment Options for Eye Strain Headaches?

Treatment for eye strain headaches can generally mean changing old habits, conditions, or practices, using the preventative tips mentioned below. If eye strain headaches persist, consider taking advantage of these treatment options:

Eye Strain Headache Prevention

Prevention of eye strain headaches is accomplished by preventing eye strain from occurring in the first place. Follow these tips:

  • Undergo Regular Eye Examinations – Doctors recommend regular eye exams. This entails ophthalmologist visits at least once a year, especially if you work with a computer on a daily basis. A doctor’s visit will keep you aware of the condition of your eyes–if you need prescription lenses, or if there are other underlying problems you may not be aware of. Awareness of underlying problems, such as poor vision, is important, because they could be the cause of your severe eye strain.
  • Maintain Good Lighting – Poor lighting is one of the major causes of eye strain. Be careful not to use too much bright, fluorescent lighting, especially while on a computer. Too much light can tire the eyes. When reading print, be sure the direct light comes from behind onto the page being read. When watching television, keep the room around dimly lit to keep a balance between room lighting and the light from the TV.
  • Minimize Glare - When glare is found on a computer screen or television, the eyes work hard to focus on the image behind the glare. To eliminate stress on the ciliary body and muscles, minimize the glare on these devices.
  • Make Needed Adjustments to Your Computer – If you strain to read words, adjust the display font sizes. If colors are too harsh, soften them. If brightness is too low or high, try a comfortable medium.
  • Take Frequent Eye Breaks – Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off of the screen and focus on something around for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to refocus and refresh.
  • Blink – When staring at a computer, it is common to forget to blink. So, blink. This keeps your eyes well-hydrated. If this doesn’t work, consider using eye drops.
  • Massage the Eyelids and Muscles Twice Daily – With bare hands, gently massage the area between the eyelids and eyebrows for 10 seconds, then the area below the eyes, above the cheekbone. This can relieve stress in the eye muscles and promote moisture production in the tear ducts.

Immediate Eyestrain Headache Treatment

Sometimes, eye strain occurs without warning, even in people who are used to spending several hours a day looking at a computer screen. If this occurs, take these immediate eye strain headache treatment options:

  • Eye Exercises: Many ophthalmologists recommend therapeutic eye exercises, which work in building and strengthening eye muscles or in relaxation of those muscles. Like with all muscles, strengthening the eye muscles will increase the threshold of stress the eyes are able to handle, before the stress induces permanent or serious damage.  Search the internet for the right eye exercises and relaxation methods that fit your circumstance and setting.
  • Medication: To treat headaches caused by eye strain, consider a strong over-the-counter headache medication such as Migralex. Migralex works fast and will quickly relieve you of your eye strain headaches and so you can get right back to work. It is safe, contains no caffeine, sodium, or preservatives and is gentle on stomach lining, making it an ideal solution for immediate treatment.

If you have tried these preventative and immediate treatment solutions for eye strain headaches but still find yourself frequently experiencing these headaches, consult your eye doctor. He or she may be able to diagnose an underlying cause for your sensitivity to these headaches.

Eye Strain Headache Resources