Headache or pain behind eyes is extremely common. It often originates in the sinuses or in the back of the eye and it may or may not be accompanied by a throbbing feeling. Read this article to know the various causes of headache behind eyes, the triggers to avoid, some treatment options and when should you see an eye doctor.
What Are the Causes?
Headache or pain behind the eyes can be caused due to different reasons. Let’s look at some of the common causes:
- Eye strain –Strained eyes due to excessive exposure to screen or digital eye strain, undiagnosed nearsightedness etc., over stimulate the brain. This puts pressure on the brain and eye to make up for the vision impairment often causing a headache. Digital eye strain is a very common cause of headache behind eyes. Ask your ophthalmologist about tips on how to relieve eye strain.
- Tension Headaches – They are defined as pressure or a tightening feeling around the forehead or pain behind the eyes. These are very common and can occur around once or twice a month. If they occur every 15 days for three months or more, they are considered as chronic and require immediate professional attention. The symptoms include:
- Forehead and neck pain
- Dull throbbing pain in head
- Tender scalp
- Cluster Headaches– These are a series of three or four short episodes of headaches which can be really painful. They can last for as short as 15 minutes or as long as more than an hour. They are defined as a sharp painful sensation generally occurring behind one eye. Other symptoms include:
- Excessive tearing
- Swollen eyes
- Redness in eyes
- Migraine–It is described as pain or a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. The pain is severe and can remain for hours or days at a time. It can even affect your quality of life. Other symptoms include:
- Eye strain
- Eye pain
- Impaired vision
- Light sensitivity
- Mood changes
- Sinusitis– A sinus infection is the congestion or inflammation of tissues which line your sinuses. The headache like pain in this condition is the body’s response to nasal congestion which is often accompanied with pressure behind the eyes and across cheeks and forehead. Other symptoms include:
- Pain in upper teeth
- Severe pain while lying down
Apart from these, certain eye disorders can also cause pain behind the eyes. These include optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve), scleritis (severe inflammation in the white outer coating of the eye), glaucoma etc.
What Are the Treatment Options?
You can relieve or prevent headache behind the eyes by avoiding the below listed triggers:
- Practice the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This rule is a great reminder to take frequent breaks so as to reduce digital eye strain. You can even benefit from closing your eyes for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Insufficient sleep
- Excessive screen time
- Loud noises
- Bright lights
- Strong odors
You can also take over-the-counter medication. In severe cases if there is a different health issue responsible for pain behind eyes, depending on your case, you may be prescribed anti-depressants to regulate your hormone levels or muscle relaxants by your doctor.
You can even try some of the below mentioned tips to prevent pain or headache behind eyes:
- Refrain from smoking
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid processed foods
- Include foods which promote good eye health in your diet such as oily fish, green leafy vegetables, carrots etc.
- Rest your strained or tired eyes by placing a cool and damp towel over closed eyes
- Blink frequently if you spend long hours looking at a digital screen
In case you experience headache behind your eyes frequently for longer periods of time and over-the-counter medications do not help, it may indicate the presence of some serious health problems. In such a situation, consult your ophthalmologist at the earliest. He or shemay prescribe an eye examination to identify the underlying cause so that appropriate treatment can be given.