Eye Strain Headache: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What Is An Eye Strain?

Eye strain is a common condition caused by prolonged use of your eyes, such as when reading or driving a long distance. The prevalent cause of eye strain in recent years remains the prolonged use of computers and cell phones. Digital eye strain is the name given to this type of eye strain. Although eye strain can be uncomfortable, it is usually not a grave condition. You can take numerous steps to reduce or prevent eye strain.

In general, doctors can use simple, non-invasive methods to treat eyestrain. Sustained eyestrain or eye pain may indicate a more critical problem, and you should discuss it with your doctor.

What Is An Eye Strain Headache?

When looking at objects or screens up close, the muscles around your eyes might need to work harder to focus. These muscles, like any other in your body, can become sore and tired over time. Squinting for an extended time, on the other hand, may cause spasms in your facial muscles and the muscles around your eyes. These spasms can cause headaches due to eye strain.

Headaches are associated with eye strain because headaches and light appear to be inextricably linked. When your eyes constantly get subjected to excessively damaging light and all that it entails, your head compensates as well. Unfortunately, this means that your brain is working overtime and, in general, is unable to pull it off, just as your eyes are unable to. As a result, you suffer from eye strain and, in some cases, severe headaches.

Eye Strain Headache: Signs And Symptoms

There are numerous types of headaches. Migraine, cluster headache, and tension headache are the most common types. These headaches are treated and cared for differently than eye strain headaches. That is why understanding how to recognize an eyestrain headache, relatively benign compared to other types of headaches, remains critical.

The following are the signs and symptoms of an eyestrain headache:

It develops as a result of prolonged eye activity.
Eye strain headaches occur when you focus on something for an extended time. They won’t appear when you wake up or if you haven’t been reading, watching, or concentrating on something for a while.

Rest helps to alleviate pain.
An eye strain headache will usually go away once you rest your eyes.

There is no digestive discomfort.
Eye strain headaches, unlike other types of headaches, are rarely accompanied by vomiting or nausea.

You are experiencing pain behind your eyes.
The pain usually gets felt behind or near your eyes. The affected area may feel achy or tired.

Eye Strain Headache: Causes

Consider what you were doing before your symptoms appeared to help you ascertain the source of your eye strain headache. It will assist you in determining how to alleviate discomfort. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of headaches caused by eye strain.

1. Prolonged exposure to digital screens.
The most common cause of eye strain remains prolonged staring at a digital screen. The condition is known as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome in this case. When you concentrate on a screen, you tend to blink less frequently. It can cause dry eyes, which can be irritating. Excessive glare or reflection on your screen, low contrast between the screen text and background, digital screens placed at incorrect distances, and poor posture are all scenarios that may aggravate digital eye strain. If you stare at a screen for 2 hours or more without taking a break, you more likely will develop digital eye strain.

2. Extended concentration on a single task.
Without the use of a digital screen, it is possible to develop eye strain. After focusing on a single activity for an extended period, your eyes may become tired. Long-distance driving, reading a book, or working on a project are examples of these.

3. Vision issues.
Eye strain can also get caused by uncorrected vision. To see clearly, you may require prescription glasses or contact lenses. If you are already wearing them, you may need a different prescription. If you have an uncorrected vision, your eyes will have to work harder to form a clear image. It can make your eyes tired and cause headaches from eye strain.

4. Bright or dim lights.
It is difficult to see clearly in either too bright or too dim light. To see well, you may need to squint your eyes. You may have noticed this while driving in the sun without sunglasses or walking into a dark room. Your eyes can become tired and strained as you try to focus.

Eye Strain Headache: Complications & Risk

When looking at a computer or digital screen, the eyes have to work harder. As a result of the unique characteristics and high visual demands of computer and digital screen viewing, many people are predisposed to developing vision-related symptoms. Although eyestrain has no serious or long-term consequences, it can be aggravating and unpleasant. It can cause fatigue and impair your ability to concentrate. You may be more susceptible to digital eye strain if you:

  • Spend a few hours or more per day on a computer or digital device.
  • Stand too close to your computer or digital device’s screen.
  • Viewing your computer or digital device from an incorrect angle.
  • When using a computer or a digital device, maintain poor posture.
  • Have an eye problem (even minor ones) not corrected by spectacles or contact lenses.
  • Have a pair of glasses that aren’t suitable for viewing your computer from a distance.
  • If you do not take breaks while working.

Eye Strain Headache: Diagnosis

During a visit to your eye care provider’s office, eye strain gets diagnosed. Your healthcare provider will discuss the following topics with you during this visit:

  • What symptoms you are having
  • When these symptoms occur and what tasks you may be performing at the time

Your doctor may also perform a physical exam. They might check for muscle imbalance, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and other eye problems.

Most of the time, eye strain will go away on its own. You don’t have to see your doctor in these cases. Eye strain is usually treatable with a few simple lifestyle changes and awareness of the tasks that irritate the eyes. If your eye strain is severe or chronic, you should seek medical assistance in case of any more grave complications.

Eye Strain Headache: Treatment

The goal of headache treatment is to lessen the severity and frequency with which they occur. Because it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a headache, the symptoms get targeted. When you have a headache, you can try a variety of at-home and over-the-counter treatments. Common headache treatments available at home include:

  1. Using over-the-counter pain relievers.
  2. Taking a nap in a dark and quiet place.
  3. Applying an ice pack or a cold towel to your brow.
  4. Applying a warm compress
  5. Massage the temples, neck, or shoulders.
  6. The use of muscle relaxants.
  7. Getting plenty of water.

Treatments may differ depending on the type of headache. Treatment that is effective for one person may be ineffective for another, so it is critical to experiment with different treatment approaches until you can get relief from your headache pain. Prescription medications are available in addition to over-the-counter medicines for severe and recurring headaches.

Eye Strain Headache: Prevention Tips

Controlling the lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for screen viewing, and ensuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected are all part of preventing or reducing the vision problems associated with Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or digital eyestrain.

  • Don’t go to work if you have a vision problem.

Even if you might not need spectacles for driving, reading, or other tasks, they can assist with a marginal vision problem made worse by computer use. To reduce job-related vision stress, you may require a mild glasses prescription. It’s a good idea for computer users to get a comprehensive eye exam once a year.

  • Glasses should be appropriate for the job.

If you wear glasses for distance eyesight, reading, or both, they may not provide the best vision for viewing a computer screen, about 20 to 30 inches away from the eyes. Inform the doctor about your job duties and take measurements of your on-the-job eyesight distances. If you share accurate information, it will assist you in obtaining the best vision improvement glasses. You may also benefit from one of the new computer-optimized lens designs.

  • Reduce the discomfort caused by blue light and glare.

Blue light from LED and fluorescent lighting, as well as monitors, tablets, and mobile devices, can have a long-term negative impact on vision. You can mitigate blue light by using special lens tints and coatings. Use a glare reduction filter, reposition the screen, or use drapes, shades, or blinds to reduce glare on the computer screen. Keeping screens clean, dirt-free, and fingerprint-free can also help to reduce glare and improve clarity.

  • Adjust the work area and computer to your liking.

Most people prefer a work surface height of about 26 inches when using computers. Tables and desks are typically 29 inches high. Set the computer screen at a distance of 16 to 30 inches. The screen’s top should be slightly lower than the horizontal eye level. Tilt the screen away from you at a 10- to a 20-degree angle.

  • Make use of a copyholder that can be adjusted.

Place reference material as close to the computer screen as possible. Make sure it remains at the same distance from your eyes as the computer screen. It eliminates the need for the eyes to change focus when moving from one to the other.

  • Throughout the day, take alternate task breaks.

Make phone calls or photocopies if necessary. Consult with your coworkers. Do something which does not require your eyes to focus on something up close after working on the computer for an extended amount of time.

Eye Strain Headache: Home Remedies

Chronic headaches caused by long-term eye strain can be disruptive to your daily life. Luckily, eye strain does not cause irreversible injury or damage to the eye, and it is often easy to treat. You can likely resolve the problems, which are straining your eyes and causing headaches, by making simple changes to your working, reading, and driving environments.

  • Ascertain that your glasses or contacts have the correct prescription for your vision needs.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth to soothe tired eyes.
  • When you’re out in the sun, wear sunglasses.
  • To alleviate dry eyes, use artificial tears.
  • Adjust your computer screen so that you must look down at it.
  • To improve the quality of dry air, use a humidifier.
  • To minimize the impact of blue light, wear computer eyewear.

If you still have eye strain and headaches after making several adjustments, you should consult an ophthalmologist. An eye exam allows your eye doctor to examine your eye muscles, screen for underlying eye or health issues, and ensure you are wearing the correct eyeglass or contact lens prescription. During this exam, they may be able to determine the source of your eye strain.

Related Blog: How To Get Rid Of Eye Strain Headache?

Eye Strain Headache: Exercise

Several factors contribute to eye strain. Looking at bright or very dim objects can make your pupils work harder, whereas looking at a stationary object can cause burnout in the muscles that aim and focus your eyes. You also blink less when concentrating on a single thing, which causes your eyes to dry out and become sore. We spend countless hours staring at images and text on computer monitors, television sets, and cell phones, causing eye strain and potentially age-related eye disorders. Our eyes, like the rest of our bodies, require regular exercise and maintenance. Eye strain exercises can help reduce this type of fatigue and soreness.

Let’s take a look at some of eye strain headache exercise:

  • Blinking & Yawning

The quickest way to alleviate some of the symptoms of eye strain is to assist your eyes in re-lubricating themselves. If your eyes are dry from staring at something for an extended period, blinking and yawning can induce your eyes to generate tears to lubricate your eyes. Quickly blinking several times can also distribute tears across your eyes, reducing burning or soreness.

  • Rolling Your Eyes

Gently rolling your eyes in one direction and then back can help relieve tension and irritation in the muscles around and under your eyes. You can repeat this 3 to 5 times an hour to help alleviate eye strain.

  • Focus Changing

When the muscles that help you focus your eyes become tense, changing your focus can help relieve tension and pain.

  • Palming Your Eyes

Shut your eyes and carefully place your warm palms over both without exerting pressure on your eyes. Maintain this position for thirty to sixty seconds, and then repeat whenever your eyes begin to tire.

  • Warm Compress

Using a warm compress instead of simply palming your eyes is a step up from palming your eyes. The warmth appears to aid in the elicitation of tears while resting muscles. These effects work together to relieve eye strain while putting no pressure added on sensitive muscles.

Eye Strain Headache After LASIK

Your eyes will be weaker than usual after LASIK surgery. You may be straining your eyes before they are ready to focus again if you try to read, scroll through your smartphone, or watch television. Exercising your eyes when they are tired can cause eyestrain, which can cause headaches in some people. Remember that your eyes will be working hard to process new visual information immediately after surgery and for the first day or two. To avoid post-operative headaches, patients should avoid straining their eyes.

Many of the post-surgery tips to lower your risk of headaches remain beneficial to the health of your eyes. Among these suggestions are:

  1. Allowing your eyes to rest
  2. Seek out good lighting
  3. Making use of the 20-20-20 rule
  4. Using eye drops prescribed by your ophthalmologist

Eye Strain Headache Vs Migraine

While eye strain headaches may not have severe symptoms or risk factors, the case remains different for migraines. On the one hand, headaches caused due to eye strain may dissipate after making some lifestyle changes or opting for remedies like warm compress, etc. While headaches usually have a single cause, migraines have multiple triggers but no single reason. If you suffer from migraines, you may notice that specific triggers cause them to appear. As they often say, migraines are more than just a headache, and you may have to deal with some severe symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or smells
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue

Eye Strain Headache: Related FAQs

With a throbbing ache in your temples, most people like you would want to know the cause and the means to get rid of it. Here, you will get the answers to some frequently asked questions concerning eye strain and associated headaches. It will help you understand the problem better and get it resolved at the earliest.

Q1: Can eye strain cause headaches?
If you continuously sit in front of the screen for a prolonged period, it causes an eye strain, which may, very well, lead to a headache. Usually, the constant glare of the screen, also known as computer vision syndrome, can lead to a throbbing headache. However, if you disallow yourself to cause an eye strain, the associated headaches might not occur again.

Q2: How to get rid of eye strain headache?
Some changes in your everyday lifestyle can help you get rid of eye strain headaches. A few of these changes include making use of the 20-20-20 rule, resting your eyes every hour, wearing computer glasses, and using eye drops to prevent dry eyes. You can also try the cold and warm compress and a few eye exercises to alleviate the eye strain.

Q3: Where do you feel eye strain headache?
Eye strain headaches can put pressure on your temples or the region right above your eyebrows. The muscles in and around your eyes remain under pressure, thus leading to a headache.

Q4: Can eye strain headaches last for days?
If you continue to strain your eyes and do not take the necessary measures to reduce the pressure, the headaches could continue for days. However, sometimes, eye strain headaches could have some underlying causes as well. Therefore, before self-diagnoses, you should seek medical attention from a certified ophthalmologist and get the necessary treatment.

Q5: How do you know you have eye strain?
Some symptoms will give you a sign that you might have an eye strain. These include sore eyes, sensitivity to light, trouble focusing on a single object, headaches, dry eyes, and even blurry vision. So, if you notice these signs, consult your eye doctor right away.

When To See A Doctor For An Eye Strain Headache?

Simple lifestyle modifications, such as those recommended in this article, can significantly decrease the probability of your eye strain headaches. Consult a doctor if your headaches persist despite these changes. In addition to your headaches, you should see a doctor if you have symptoms such as sudden vision changes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or severe eye pain. Even if you have good vision, you should get regular eye exams. Other issues, such as eye muscle imbalance, can be checked by your eye doctor.


When your eyes are working too hard, your eye muscles may contract excessively. These contractions can result in a headache caused by eye strain. These headaches frequently cause pain and discomfort behind your eyes. After concentrating on a task for an extended time, you may develop an eye strain headache. Fortunately, you can usually find relief simply by closing your eyes. It also helps to wear correct prescription glasses or contact lenses. If changing your lifestyle doesn’t help, see a doctor. They can determine whether your headaches get caused by an underlying condition.

How Can Aims Healthcare Help?

When it comes to medical treatment, you want to seek advice from experts. Aims Healthcare’s Doctor-on-Call service in Dubai helps you reach out to qualified and certified doctors that offer the best possible treatment for your eye strain headaches in the comfort of your home, office, or at the hotel. We enhance the experience of attaining medical attention and treatment. We make the best healthcare professionals accessible and just one call away. So, to receive personalized medical care, comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and after-care exclusively at your doorstep, contact us at +971 4 582 6555.

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