Headache or Migraine: Signals of Vision Problems

Headache, Neck And Shoulder Pain

Muscle tension in your neck, shoulders or upper back can be linked to issues with your vision. One type of headache known as "cervicogenic", is a dull pain on one side of the neck that spreads to the back of the head and along the scalp to the area of your temples and around your eye. This results is the headache, the radiating pain around the eye, sometimes arm and shoulder pain and in some cases blurred vision. This is just one type of headache that can affect your vision but it is also important to know when vision issues may contribute to headaches, back, shoulder or neck pain.

The Relationship Between Vision And Pain

If you find yourself suffering from frequent headaches across the front or down the sides of your head, there could be a link between your headaches and your vision. Many vision problems may make you want to squint your eyes, concentrate hard,  or jut your head and neck forward as you try to see things clearly and this strain can result in headaches. Remember the causes of headache can vary depending on the type and intensity. For example, suffering migraines (a severe type of headache that includes symptoms such as bright flashes in your vision, wavy lines or temporary blindness) on a regular basis, is mostly not caused by vision problems.

With visual migraine, (this can occur with or without the headache) vision loss can briefly occur in just one eye either during or after a migraine. These visual migraines can be extremely painful and are often accompanied by pain on one side of the head. Symptoms of visual migraine often include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. This pain can increase when moving around, sufferers often lie down in a darkened room until the migraine stops.

Anything that causes you to strain or tense when you're trying to see clearly, can cause pain for you elsewhere. Eye conditions such as astigmatism (a common vision condition that causes blurred vision), hyperopia (long-sightedness), myopia (short-sightedness) and presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects) can result in eye strain as you struggle to see objects clearly. Another eye condition that can cause extreme pain is acute glaucoma, which occurs due to a build-up of pressure in the eye, this can lead to loss of sight.

Neck and shoulder pain can especially be linked to problems with your vision, especially if you work at a computer for long periods of time. Often referred to as computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain, individuals who don’t have the appropriate vision correction when sitting in front of a screen can experience pain in their back, shoulders and neck. These vision problems are due to the fact that a different type of lens may be needed to give clear focus for the exact position of their computer monitors.

  • Headache, Neck And Shoulder Pain

How To Prevent The Pain

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help prevent the type of neck, shoulder and back pain related to vision problems. Identifying the causes of headache can help, as can examining the ways in which you sit when working.

If, for instance, you spend many hours a day sitting at a computer, try making a conscious effort to evaluate the posture you adopt when you work and the manner in which you sit. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you hunched over your keyboard?
  • Do you feel you need to sit too close to your screen?
  • Is your monitor placed at the correct height?
  • Is your keyboard in a position where you can reach it comfortably?
  • If you already wear glasses, are you craning your head and neck forward or lifting your chin to try and get a clear focus?
  • Reducing vision-related pain

There are also simple things you can do to reduce eye-related pain in your body.

  • Ideally, you want your monitor to be at eye level or just below, with the screen being no closer to your eyes than 65cm (or an arm’s length).
  • If you have a bigger monitor, you may need to adjust your position so you sit slightly further away from the screen.
  • Ensure you have the right glasses. If you wear multifocal or progressive lenses like Varilux you should lower your monitor, so your eyes are level with the menu bar on the screen, you shouldn't have to tip your head back to see it properly. If you are still having trouble ask your optometrist about the variety of extended focus lenses like Varilux Digitime which are engineered specifically for computers and other tasks.
  • Make sure you’re not straining to reach the keys on your keyboard or hunching over to type; both of these positions can result in back and neck pain, which, as we saw earlier, can trigger headaches 

The good news is that in many cases, headaches associated with vision problems can be treated with prescription glasses, which should help them to decrease or vanish altogether. If these symptoms persist, however, you should see your optometrist again as soon as possible in case you have other problems that require treatment by your GP or an eye surgeon.

If you haven’t had your eyes checked recently, it is important that you visit your optometrist to determine if you have any undiagnosed eye conditions or if you need glasses.

Suffering from recurring headaches?

Visit your nearest optometrist today and check if it is related to your vision



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