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Can Dry Eye Cause Headaches?

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A man sitting in from of his computer is touching his glabella due to a headache and irritated dry eyes after long hours on his computer.

Dry eyes can be challenging to manage, and this common eye condition brings a set of symptoms that can halt your productivity. The good news is that your optometrist can help diagnose and treat your dry eyes with helpful dry eye management methods.

Headaches are a common symptom of dry eyes that can result from the light sensitivity and the blurry vision caused by dry eyes. 

Let’s take a closer look at dry eye disease, including its symptoms, how it can result in headaches, and how to treat it.

How Dry Eyes Develop

Dry eye disease occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or those tears evaporate too quickly. Dry eye is usually caused by the inability of the tear film to lubricate the eye properly. 

Your tear film consists of 3 layers

Dry eyes can occur when the glands that produce these elements of your tears are not functioning properly or become inflamed. Dry eye diseases can have many different causes, including: 

  • Allergies
  • The aging process
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Prolonged periods of screen time
  • Environmental conditions

Inflammation of these glands can also result in meibomian gland dysfunction. This process clogs the small glands in your eyelids that produce the oily layer of tears and cause instability in the tear film. Instability in the tear production process can lead to dry eyes. 

Common signs and symptoms of dry eye disease can include: 

  • Light sensitivity
  • Stinging or burning
  • Blurry vision 
  • Fatigued eyes

The 2 Types of Dry Eye

There are 2 main types of dry eye that can affect your health and vision:

  • Evaporative dry eye—is the most common form of dry eye and occurs when there is a lack of the oil layer in your tears.
  • Aqueous tear deficiency—this type of dry eye occurs when you lack a proper aqueous layer in your tears, and your eyes can’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated.

The Link Between Dry Eyes & Headaches

Several studies have explored the connection between dry eye disease and headaches, but the link is still unclear. 

Although more research is needed to understand the connection between dry eyes and headaches, it has been shown that dry eyes can cause differences in the length, symptoms, and severity of headaches.

Headaches also share similar symptoms to dry eyes, like sensitivity to light, swelling, and eye pain. Both dry eyes and headaches can be caused by different things, like: 

  • Certain medications
  • Eye injury or illness
  • The structure of your eye

Migraines are particularly severe headaches, and dry eye symptoms appear to be more common among people dealing with migraine headaches. 

While the exact link between dry eyes and headaches remains unclear, it’s undeniable that more research is needed to assess the relationship between dry eyes and headaches fully. 

A young woman is holding a bottle of eye drops close to her right eye and pours some drops to lessen the discomfort because of dry eyes.

Treating Dry Eyes

Treatment options for dry eye can vary, and your eye doctor may offer various solutions like: 

  • Prescription eye drops
  • Warm compresses
  • Eyelid cleaners
  • Punctal plugging

Your optometrist can help you get to the bottom of your dry eye issues and find the right solution for your visual needs.

Getting Your Comfort Back

Dry eyes on their own are a source of discomfort and are challenging to manage. When you add headaches to the mix, finding relief is the first thing on your mind. While the link between dry eyes and headaches still requires more research, they do share similar symptoms, and your eye doctor can help you find relief.

Book an appointment with our eye care professionals at Griffin Optometric Group in Talega to get to the bottom of your dry eye symptoms and find relief.

Written by Total Vision

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