Eye Strain Headache: Understanding the Condition

Monali Sharma
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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Eye strain headache

While eye strain does not cause any permanent damage to your vision, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches.

Digital eye strain is one of the leading causes of headaches.

A 2023 study by Wantlens shows that nearly 24% of people with digital eye strain experience headaches.

This article outlines the causes, symptoms, and treatments of these headaches due to eye strain.

The connection between eye strain and headache

Eye strain may cause headaches from refractive error or an extraocular muscle imbalance.

If far-sighted people have refractive errors, they must make more effort to see things.

Additionally, the eyeball in most individuals is not entirely spherical, which can lead to Astigmatism. This can make images more blurry and unclear.

In an attempt to overcome the refractive error, ciliary muscles that control the lens and pupil movements become fatigued. 

This can develop headaches in some patients.

Extraocular Muscle Imbalance is a vision problem in which eyes are not aligned properly and point in different directions.

Eye strain which leads to headaches, can give rise to Extraocular Muscle Imbalance which can worsen the pain in the head.

If you have chronic eye strain that is not treated, it may lead to chronic headaches.

Causes of headache

Eye strain is the major cause of headaches.

Hence to understand what leads to headaches, we need to understand the causes of eye strain.

Extended screen time on digital devices

is eye twitching a sign of strokeSource: RyanKing99
eye strain

Long screen time on digital devices is the most common cause of eye strain.

When you spend too much time on a digital screen, you tend to blink less, which can strain your eyes.

If the digital screen is placed at an incorrect distance, it can worsen the eye strain causing headaches.

Prolonged attention to a task

Sometimes, continued focus on a single task can tire your eyes.

Reading, drawing, or sewing that needs constant eye attention can strain our eyes, resulting in headaches.

Also, glare and reflection on the computer screen make our eyes work harder to focus clearly.

If you work in such conditions for hours, it may result in eye strain headaches.

Bright light

Working in bright light may make looking at the objects on the screen challenging.

In such an atmosphere, you try to focus more to see things, like driving on a sunny day. 

This can cause your eyes to get fatigued and cause headaches.

Did you know
In addition to exercising caution while working in a bright atmosphere, you need to make sure not to work in dim light as it might wear out your eyes, leading to pain in the head.

Vision problems

Vision problems, such as Refractive error, can cause eye strain headaches.

When you have a vision problem, your eye muscles have to work more without any break, which leads to eye strain and, subsequently, headaches.

The refractive error makes your vision unclear or blurry. This occurs when the shape of your eye keeps light from focusing correctly on your retina.

Therefore, making it harder for your eyes to concentrate on forming a clear image, which again leads to eye strain.

Signs and symptoms

eye pain and nauseaSource: YakobchukOlena_from_Getty_Images
eye strain headache

If you have a headache, it can mean many things.

If you have headaches due to eye strain, you may observe symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light.

Depending on the cause and severity, a headache can be sharp, dull, or throbbing.

If your work involves working long hours in front of a computer screen, then you may start to feel the pain behind your eyes. 

It may start from one side and then spread all over. 


Changing your lifestyle routine plays a vital role in preventing headaches.

You can control headaches from eye strain by cutting screen time or taking breaks.

Taking a break from your computer screen, even for a few seconds, can help prevent eyestrain.

You can apply the 20/20/20 rule. After every 20 minutes, look into the distance of about 20 feet for 20 seconds.

This will help you prevent eyestrain and headaches and improve your work efficiency.

If you’re working from home, you can dim the space, utilize blinds, or use low-intensity lighting to prevent eye strain and headaches from glare or reflection on a computer screen. 

You can also use anti-glare covers as an alternative.

You read lengthy documents or books on tablets or smartphones regularly. You can read from the hard copy instead to limit your screen time.

Also Read: You can go through the article, 6 Effective Eye Exercises to Improve Vision.


Treatment of headaches is more focused on decreasing their severity and frequency.

While the best way to treat headaches due to eye strain is to give your eyes enough rest, there are other prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat headache pain effectively.

You can use prescription glasses to help control the headaches from a vision problem.

Sometimes dry eyes can make eye strain worse, leading to more headaches. You can use artificial tears such as Eyemist to relieve your dry eyes.

You can take over-the-counter Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for stubborn headaches from eye strain.

Read More: There are some techniques you can follow for eye strain relief, read Clearing Your Vision: Tips and Techniques for Eye Strain Relief.

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You can purchase OTC Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, Ns Aid 5 ml Eye drop, on WowRxPharmacy at a reasonable price.


Headache can be the cause of many eye problems, including eye strain.

Eye strain can lead to headaches for various reasons, such as working in too bright or dim light, doing strenuous work without a break, or spending too much time on digital screens.

But you can eliminate eye strain headaches by taking preventive measures and treatment.

If you experience a headache after work hours, rest your eyes, or use eye drops for lubrication and relief.

Seek medical attention or speak with your doctor if your headache is unresolved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can eye strain cause headaches?

Yes. If you do strenuous work for long hours, your eyes become fatigued. This is because the ciliary muscles behind your eyes get tired, which can lead to headaches. But you can avoid this by resting your eyes for a while between work.

How to help eye strain headaches?

The best way to help with eye strain headaches is to take preventive measures for eye strain. You can use prescription glasses for vision problems, an Eyemist to relieve your eyes, or NSAID for headaches due to eye pain.

How long do eye strain headaches last?

The duration of eye strain headaches depends on their causes. Headache due to digital eye strain lasts until you give your eyes enough rest. If your headache is persistent, it may be due to some underlying causes of eye strain. In such cases, speak with your doctor to identify the problem.

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