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Can Bad Eyesight Cause Headaches?

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A man suffering from a headache possibly cause by bad eyesight.

Most of us have experienced a headache at some point, and it’s logical to wonder if there is a connection between headaches and our eyes. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for headaches because there are different kinds, but bad eyesight can cause headaches.

For example, if a person has an uncorrected refractive error, this could cause eye fatigue or overworked eye muscles, potentially leading to a headache. This potential for complications from eye issues serves as a reminder of the importance of regular visits to the eye doctor. The chances of your eye doctor catching eye problems before they cause uncomfortable symptoms are good when we get eye examinations as our optometrist recommends.

Understanding Headaches

Headaches come in various forms, each with its triggers and symptoms. From the pulsing pain of a migraine to the tension band of a stress headache, the root causes can be as diverse as the pain itself. It’s essential to grasp the nature of headaches beyond just hurting your head before we dive into how your eyes might be involved.


Anyone who experiences migraines knows their capacity to crush your productivity. They often bring along nausea, sensitivity to light, and vomiting—among other symptoms as they progress. Visual disturbances known as auras can also kick in before or during the migraine, potentially due to sudden changes in blood flow in or around the brain.

Tension Headaches

Stress, muscle contractions in the head and neck, and even genetics are thought to be behind most tension headaches. The pain is typically a dull, steady ache that may run down the back of the head into the neck. A tension headache also usually comes on slowly and doesn’t lead to the same symptoms of a migraine, such as nausea, vomiting, or light sensitivity.

Common Refractive Errors

The following are four common refractive errors. It’s important to note that these visual errors don’t guarantee that an individual will experience headaches, but their symptoms may include headaches. Any uncorrected refractive error can put more strain on the eyes, which can lead to headaches. We’ll explore this connection further down below.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common refractive error. The main symptom is that distant objects appear blurry. However, myopia can lead to squinting, eye fatigue, and headaches. Myopia can begin in childhood and progress, hence the importance of regular eye check-ups for kiddos and adults alike.

Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is the reverse of myopia, where close-up objects are the source of blurriness. Straining to read, particularly small print, can strain your eyes and your patience. This extra strain on the eye can cause headaches


With astigmatism, the curvature of the cornea isn’t perfectly spherical. This results in various focal points for light entering the eye, causing blurred and distorted vision. Symptoms of astigmatism can include some similar to myopia or hyperopia—including headaches.


Presbyopia typically sets in around middle age, making it harder to focus on close objects, and is a natural part of aging. It should still be corrected even though it’s a natural part of getting older because it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like eye strain or headaches.

A woman leaning closer to her laptop to see its contents better.

How Bad Eyesight Can Lead to Headaches

Straining to see can throw your eye muscles out of whack, and just like the muscles in your back when lifting a heavy box, they’ll protest. Here are a few ways that uncorrected refractive errors could lead to a headache.

Overworked Eye Muscles

Our eye muscles are on duty from the moment we wake up. When these muscles are overused or under duress due to poor vision, they could be the culprits behind that end-of-day headache.

Eye Fatigue

Fatigued eyes and eye strain can lead to headaches, which are often caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck. The fatigue your eyes experience may result from muscle tiredness or irritating visual tasks, especially when these tasks require close, detailed attention over prolonged periods.


While we’ve alluded to migraines, it’s crucial to note that these seemingly unpredictable headaches can be triggered or influenced by numerous factors, including bright or flickering lights. This association underscores the need for adequate vision care for those who suffer from migraines, or even those who have a family history of the condition.

Professional Help for Eyesight & Headaches

Eye exams do more than determine whether or not you need a new pair of eyeglasses. They’re critical in detecting, treating, and preventing vision-related ailments that can lead to headaches and other potentially more severe health issues.

Contact our team at Rancho Santa Margarita Optometry—now a member of the Total Vision family—a call today to book your next eye exam. One of our experienced optometrists can examine your eyes and determine whether uncorrected vision could be causing your headaches. We can also review your potential treatment options, ranging from eyeglasses to contacts or even laser eye surgery.

Written by Total Vision

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