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Can Dry Eyes Cause Headaches?

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A woman with long, straight, brown hair wearing a gray button-up sweater is sitting in an office with a laptop off to the side, rubbing her eyes with both hands.

Why are you feeling a persistent headache but can’t seem to pinpoint the cause? If dry eyes are also affecting your day-to-day life, it could be the cause of your irritating headaches. It’s possible that these 2 conditions could be linked.

Many optometrists believe that people who suffer from chronic dry eye disorder may have an increased likelihood of experiencing headaches. 

Chronic dry eyes can cause a variety of symptoms, including frequent headaches. Fortunately, there are several dry eye treatments available to help you reduce your symptoms and enjoy seeing clearly again. 

What Is Dry Eye Disease?

There are 2 primary forms of dry eye disease. The first is aqueous deficiency dry eye, which occurs when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears. The second is evaporative dry eye disease, which occurs when your tears evaporate too quickly. Finding the right treatment for dry eyes starts by determining which type is affecting you. 

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • A stinging or burning sensation
  • Redness
  • A gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Blurred vision 
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes

Although dry eye disease can be caused by a variety of factors, such as age, certain medications, and environmental factors, there are a number of treatments available to help manage and alleviate your symptoms. If you are experiencing any dry eye symptoms, it is important to consult your eye doctor and determine the underlying cause to find the right treatments for your needs.

How Can Dry Eyes Cause Headaches? 

Dry eye disease can lead to a lot of discomfort, and it can cause headaches and migraines, too. The exact reason that dry eyes seem to have a relationship with headaches isn’t fully known, but some of the theories suggest increased inflammation or light sensitivity may be to blame.

If you often experience migraines and dry eyes, It is important to help keep your eyes hydrated. Pay attention to the dryness of your eyes, as increased dry eye symptoms could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed with treatments recommended by an eye doctor. 

What Are the Treatment Options for Dry Eyes & Headaches?

If you’ve ever experienced the added annoyance of a dry eye-related headache, you may be especially familiar with the pain and sensitivity that can come with this condition. Fortunately, several treatment options can help relieve the symptoms of dry eye-related headaches. 

Eye drops specifically designed to address dry eye syndrome are a common first step, as are changes in your daily routine, such as taking frequent breaks when reading or using a computer. 

Your eye doctor may also recommend prescription medications or other forms of dry eye therapy if over-the-counter drops alone aren’t enough to alleviate your discomfort. The key is to work with your eye doctor to find a treatment plan that’s tailored to your unique eye health and lifestyle.

Natural Treatments to Relieve Headaches Caused by Dry Eyes

There are some natural treatments that may also help alleviate the discomfort of headaches caused by dry eyes. One of the simplest methods is to take frequent breaks from staring at screens and make sure to blink regularly. 

You can also try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air and prevent your eyes from drying out. Another option is to apply warm compresses to your eyes to stimulate oil production and increase moisture. And don’t forget to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 

Long-Term Strategies for Managing Chronic Dry Eyes & Headache Pain

Living with chronic dry eyes and headache pain can be uncomfortable and stressful, but there are several long-term strategies you can use to manage these symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

One approach is to practice good eye hygiene, including taking frequent breaks from activities that strain your eyes, using artificial tears, and avoiding irritants like smoke and dust. 

You can also work with your eye doctor to identify the underlying causes of your dry eyes and headaches, such as allergies or medication side effects, and develop a customized treatment plan that may include prescription eye drops or oral medications and other dry eye treatments.

Additionally, making healthy lifestyle changes like staying hydrated, reducing stress, eating well, and getting regular exercise may help alleviate your symptoms and promote overall wellness. With persistence and proper care, you can find relief from chronic dry eyes and headache pain.

A young man standing against a blue background and looking up as he applies eye drops to his right eye.

Your Next Steps to Ease Headaches Caused by Dry Eyes

While dry eyes and headaches can be a daunting combination to contend with, the good news is that they are treatable symptoms. Taking measures to soothe the pain associated with headaches caused by dry eyes is possible. 

Incorporating natural remedies such as using a humidifier in your home, making dietary changes, massaging your eyelids or temples, and following a consistent relaxation routine are a few safe strategies for relieving dry eye-related headache pain. 

When it comes to reducing chronic dry eye-related headaches long-term, understanding triggers and avoiding them whenever possible, as well as living an overall healthy lifestyle, are key components of management. In some cases, more advanced dry eye therapy may be necessary to truly experience lasting relief.If you’ve been dealing with persistent dry eyes and headaches in Calgary, contact Southwood Eyecare and book an appointment for dry eye therapy today.

Written by Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery

Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Manitoba and later completed the Doctor of Optometry program at Illinois College of Optometry graduating with Magna Cum Laude honours. Dr. Chaudhery is also a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society and the Tomb and Key Honor Fraternity. She has experience with pediatric eye exams, ocular disease, specialty contact lenses, and vision therapy. During her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton and spending time with her husband and kids.
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