Headaches are one of the most common health complaints. While there are many underlying causes for headache pain, several can be related directly to our vision. In some cases, the connection between eyeglasses and headaches is less than clear, but it exists nonetheless. When looking at these connections, we see that there are two sides of the coin; eyeglasses that can reduce or relieve headaches and eyeglasses that can cause or contribute to them.

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Eyeglasses and Headaches Caused by Tension

 Statistics say that 70-90% of all headaches not caused by an underlying condition can be categorized as tension headaches. [2] Many people assume that tension headaches are caused by a tensing of the neck and shoulder muscles, and they can be. However, the muscle tension created by squinting, focusing on one thing for prolonged periods, and frowning can all result in a tension headache. Having uncorrected or under-corrected vision problems can result in regular tension headaches. In these cases, it’s important to have your eyes examined. Often, by wearing new or better eyeglasses, headaches can be relieved quickly.

Eyeglasses and Headaches Caused by Computer Work

Virtually everyone spends at least part of their day on the computer, whether for work, for school, or for fun. Some of us spend a great deal of time staring at a monitor and this has resulted in a new term, Computer Vision Syndrome. CVS is a group of symptoms that can be attributed to working on a computer regularly or for prolonged periods. The symptoms include eye strain, headache, neck and shoulder pain, blurred vision, and dry eyes. [1]

CVS can be reduced or relieved by ensuring proper lighting, adjusting seating and posture, and changing the position of the monitor frequently. However, one of the more common solutions is correcting slight vision problems that may have been unknown or unnoticed before. Reading pixels is not the same as reading print and can be very stressful on the eyes. If you experience frequent headaches and other CVS symptoms, see an optometrist. Correcting even a slight vision problem can often be the answer.

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Out of Date Eyeglasses and Headaches

One of the most common reasons for headaches in those who wear glasses is an outdated or expired prescription. On average, our prescriptions change every one to two years between the ages of 12-30. After 30, our vision may stay stable for longer periods. [2]

Wearing an outdated prescription causes the eyes to work harder to focus, which results in a great deal of eye strain. If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last two years, you should see your eye doctor.

Ill-Fitting Eyeglasses and Headaches

 Another very common cause of headache in those that wear glasses is having an ill-fitting pair. Glasses that are too narrow or tight create pressure on the temples, the bridge of the nose, and above the ears, which can result in frequent headaches. [1] If you find that your glasses are often uncomfortably tight, the frame width and bridge can be adjusted quickly and often without charge by your glasses retailer.

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Bifocal Eyeglasses and Headaches

Another common connection between eyeglasses and headaches is improperly made bifocals. [1] Making bifocal lenses is an exacting task and it’s common for bifocals to have slight errors in measurement. You may be able to tell there’s an issue if you frequently need to lift or lower your head to see properly or if you often remove your bifocals to focus. Take your glasses to the optometrist to see if the lenses need to be redone.

These are just some of the ways that eyeglasses and headaches are connected. However, if you feel that your glasses may be contributing to frequent headaches or you suspect you may need glasses, do yourself a service and see an optometrist.


1. http://www.aoa.org/x5253.xml
2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tension-headache/ds00304