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Understanding Headaches Behind the Eyes: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

by Eric Gathoni

Understanding Headaches Behind the Eyes: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Headaches are common ailments that can be particularly distressing when they manifest as pain behind the eyes.

A headache localised in this area can range from a dull ache to a sharp and stabbing sensation, and while often benign, understanding the potential causes and treatments can help alleviate the discomfort.

Let's delve deeper into headaches behind the eyes.

What Causes a Headache Behind the Eyes?

Several potential causes for a headache behind the eyes include:

  • Sinusitis: Inflammation or infection of the sinuses can lead to pressure and pain behind the eyes, often accompanied by a stuffy nose, facial pressure, and sometimes fever.
  • Tension Headaches: The most common type of headache, tension headaches, can feel like a tight band around the head which can cause pain behind the eyes.
  • Migraine: Migraines are intense headaches that can cause throbbing pain behind one eye. They can also include sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and visual disturbances called "auras".
  • Cluster Headaches: Severe headaches that occur in patterns or "clusters". The pain is usually centred around one eye and can be excruciating.
  • Eye Conditions: Issues like glaucoma or optic neuritis can cause pain behind the eyes. It's crucial to get these conditions checked by an ophthalmologist.

Symptoms Associated with Headaches Behind the Eyes

Pain Characteristics

  • Sharp Pain: This can feel like a stabbing sensation, often sudden and intense and might be associated with cluster headaches.
  • Throbbing Pain: This pain, often described as a pulsating ache, is typically associated with migraines.
  • Dull Ache: A continuous dull pain behind the eyes can be a symptom of tension headaches or sinusitis.

Visual Symptoms

  • Blurred Vision: If the headache is related to an eye condition or migraine, some people may experience temporary blurred vision.
  • Auras: These are visual disturbances that can precede a migraine. They might manifest in one's vision as shimmering lights, zigzag patterns or blind spots.
  • Photophobia: This is extreme sensitivity to light commonly associated with migraines and some eye conditions. Light-sensitivity glasses could help with this.
  • Watery or Red Eyes: Particularly associated with cluster headaches, one might experience teary or bloodshot eyes.

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Home Remedies:

  • Rest
  • Cold or warm compresses
  • Over-the-counter pain relief like acetaminophen or ibuprofen

 Medical Treatments:

  • Prescription medications for migraines or cluster headaches
  • Antihistamines or antibiotics for sinusitis
  • Treatment for underlying eye conditions
  • Physical therapy for tension headaches

How an optician like Optica can help

Treatment of headaches through general medical care, an optician is often the first point of contact for those experiencing pain behind the eyes. Here's how they can help:

Comprehensive Eye Examinations

Vision Assessment: Regular eye tests ensure the person wears the correct prescription. Incorrect prescriptions can strain the eyes, leading to headaches.
Eye Health Evaluation: An optician can identify signs of conditions like glaucoma, when untreated, can cause pain in the eyes.

Recommendations for Corrective Lenses

Prescription Glasses: Wearing outdated or incorrect prescriptions can lead to eye strain and subsequent headaches. An optician ensures that patients have the most up-to-date corrective lenses.
Specialised Lenses: For patients who spend significant time in front of screens, lenses with blue light protection or anti-reflective coating can help reduce eye strain-associated headaches.

Referral to Specialists

Ophthalmologists: If an optician suspects a more severe eye condition beyond their scope, they can refer patients to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Neurologists or ENT Specialists: For headaches suspected to be migraines, cluster headaches, or sinusitis, opticians can guide patients to see the relevant specialists.