Eye strain Headache, Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Do you often get headaches but not sure if it is due to eye strain? In this article, we will take a closer look at how eye strain causes a headache, how eye strain headache feels like, and how to find relief from eye strain in your daily life.

What is Eye Strain?

An irritation in the eye after prolonged reading, watching television, or using the computer for a long period, is called eye strain. It is usually caused by improper vision or when both the eyes are not aligned well. It is often caused by a headache behind the eyes and leads to discomfort. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), eye strain is best thought of as a symptom rather than a condition and has different meanings for different people. It also reflects differently in different people- for some might have a headache from eye strain, while others may have a blurred vision. However, headache while using screen devices for a long period is one of the most common causes of eye strain symptoms.

How do you know if it is a headache or eye strain?

Most of us have experienced a headache and know what it is like to have one. However, there are different kinds of headaches. The most common types of headaches are migraine, cluster headache, and tension headache. Different types of headaches require different care. They are not similar to eye strain headache. So, what does eye strain headache feel like? Some common signs of an eye strain headache are:

  • Occurs after continuous eye activity: Headache from eye strain does not occur when you wake up or any other fixed time of the day. It develops after prolonged eye activity after you have been focusing on or watching something for a long time.
  • Singular discomfort: Unlike other headaches, this one does not cause any digestive pain, vomiting, or nausea, only eye discomfort.
  • Headache behind your eyes: In an eye strain headache, the back of the head and the area around the eyes can be painful, and feel sore or tired.

Can eye strain cause headaches & dizziness?

Eye strain brings with itself a painful headache which can be very frustrating. It makes it difficult to focus on work or anything important and hampers your productivity. Eye strain is also one of the many possible causes of dizziness. The other eye problems associated with headache and dizziness include dry eyes, cornea infection, eye inflammation, tumour behind the eye, and others. Hence, the American Migraine Foundation states that eye strain is commonly overrated as a cause of headache.

Headaches and eye problems are closely related to each other. When you look at things from a closer range, the eye muscles find it hard to focus. Over time, these muscles get sore and tired, and lead to different types of headaches- mostly, eye strain headaches and sometimes, migraine. Eye strain migraine causes severe light sensitivity and pain behind the eyes.

How do you get rid of eye strain headaches?

After understanding the relation between eye strain and headache, let’s look at six ways for an eye strain headache relief. You can reduce your chances of getting a headache by following these simple steps.

1) Blink more, and blink often!

Blinking your eyes helps in keeping them moist, and reduces the effects of dry eyes. The moist your eyes, the better it is for you because you will be able to increase your focus on work instead of a headache. You can practice blinking a few times in a day to keep your eyes moist. Alternatively, you can also use artificial tears to moisten your eyes.

2) Take breaks with the 20-20-20 rule:

You are always occupied with some work, but it is still advisable to take frequent breaks in between work. To make this more fun, follow the 20-20-20 rule, which involves looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This is a proven technique to ease eye strain headache.

3) Use proper lighting:

Place your indoor source of light away from your eyes to reduce screen glare. Further, avoid using screens in the dark because your eyes then need to put extra effort to focus in the dark. Keep a soft dim light when working or reading, so that your eyes can focus in its natural way.

4) Wear computer glasses:

When you have to spend longs hours in front of the laptop or mobile screen, using reading or computer glasses, provide relief from eye strain headache. If you have an eye power and not able to change your prescription, you can still choose to add a UV blue lens coating to prevent eye strain from computer screens.

5) Try hot and cold compressing:

You need to relax your eyes after prolonged hours of focus on a particular object. The best way to immediately reduce eye strain is to try hot compressing - dab some cotton into lukewarm water and place it on top of your eyes. Alternatively, you can also try cold compressing by dabbing the cotton into cold water and place it on your eyes. Both of these techniques help in instant eye strain headache relief.

6) Modify your lifestyle:

Eye strain headache can also be a by-product of an unhealthy lifestyle. It is essential to modify your lifestyle- starting your day with a short sunbath, practicing yoga and meditation followed by some eye exercises, staying hydrated and nourished throughout the day, and many others. Your lifestyle has a tremendous impact on your eye health, which in turn affects your work and productivity.


When your eyes work extra hard, the eye muscles contract. These contractions, in return, trigger an eye strain headache. Often, these simple practices can help in eye strain headache relief. You can check out some other tips in our eye strain treatment article. However, if the headache still persists, it is advisable to take professional help and consult with your eye doctor.

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