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Could your headaches be due to eye problems?

The human eye is a complex sensitive organ that adjusts the amount of light it lets in, focuses on objects, and produces images to transmit to the brain.

Eyes cannot function properly when they are exposed to very bright or very dim light, after focusing for an extreme amount of time, or after prolonged exposure to moving air.

Eye strain is also known as asthenopia and commonly caused by extended computer use, straining to see objects in dim light, and exposure to high glare. Localized pain in the eyes and headaches are caused when the eyes are overused or due to prolonged exposure to bright light.

If you’re suffering from frequent headaches, ask yourself, “When was my last eye checkup?”

A routine eye exam can turn up a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. In some cases staring at the computer screen too long, or working on overly bright or dim light may be the culprit. Adjusting workplace lighting, or remembering to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest can remedy those problems.

There are also some common eye conditions that may result in headaches if untreated. They are:

  • Astigmatism, in which the cornea is not properly shaped, and requires you to squint in order to focus your vision.

  • Hyperopia, or long-sightedness.

  • Presbyopia, a condition in which the lens has become hard and inflexible with age, making it difficult to focus.

However, those headaches could also be triggered by something more serious, such as glaucoma or cataracts. With glaucoma, pressure builds up inside the eye due to its inability to drain fluid properly. That eventually can damage the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma, which is a slow buildup of pressure, may not have any symptoms, but angle closure glaucoma, which causes a sharper increase of pressure, can cause pain blurred vision and headaches.

Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens, also can bring about headaches as they become more severe. As your vision becomes more limited, the eye works harder.

If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, and it’s been more than a year or two between eye exams, it’s a good idea to see your eye care provider. If you already wear glasses, you may just need a new prescription. But if something else is going on, he or she can identify the problem, and take the proper steps to have you seeing clearly and headache-free.

This post originally appeared on Your Sight Matters.

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