Headache of ocular origin

One of the most common types of headache is headache of ocular origin. It occurs as a result of an ophthalmological disorder.

How many types of headache are there?

Headache occurs when overactive nerve cells send impulses to the brain. Blood vessels then dilate and release inflammatory substances, which trigger throbbing pain. The headache can be:

  1. Primary
    1. Migraines
    2. Tension-type headache, also known as stress headache, idiopathic headache or psychogenic headache
    3. Cluster headache, also known as migrainous or ciliary neuralgia, cephalgia, Horton’s syndrome or cluster headache
    4. Chronic headache
    5. Chronic progressive headache, also known as inflammatory headache
    6. Occipital headache
  2. Secondary (caused by diseases of neighboring organs, nervous diseases and mental illness)

Headache of ocular origin is a secondary headache caused by a disorder in the eye. Glaucoma, vision impairments and strabismus are among the most common causes of headache of ocular origin.

What causes the headache of ocular origin?

  1. Headaches of ocular origin are most common in patients who experience refractive errors and do nothing to correct them. Hypermetropia, myopia and astigmatism are ophthalmic diseases that affect near, far or both near and far vision, depending on the type of disorder and how advanced it is. Headache usually occurs after long periods spent in front of the TV, computer or telephone, or after the patient writes or reads a lot. In this case, the headache of ocular origin is supraorbital and may radiate to the temporal and occipital regions.
  2. Supraorbital headache is also when the patient suffers from a cornea, iris or ciliary body disorder. These are visible by redness of the eyes and sensitivity to light. Headache is common here because the iris, ciliary body and cornea are highly sensory innervated.
  3. Strabismus is another ophthalmological disorder that can manifest itself in headaches. “Crossed vision” or “crossed-eye gaze” is a disorder where binocular vision is impaired and one eye deviates when it needs to look at a fixed point.
  4. Glaucoma can also cause headaches. In addition to headaches, the patient also experiences: eye pain, tunnel vision, sensitivity to light, red eyes, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision.

What are the symptoms of headache?

Signs of headache of ocular origin are:

  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision impairment
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Palsy

How is headache of ocular origin diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made during an ophthalmological examination. This involves a series of detailed investigations:

  • Determine the patient’s history (how common headaches are, when they occur, how severe they are, what factors trigger them, whether there is a family history of headaches)
  • Establishing visual acuity
  • Measurement of ocular refraction
  • Measurement of intraocular pressure
  • Ocular motility examination
  • Anterior pole biomicroscopy
  • Fundus examination
  • Computerized perimetry
  • Gonioscopy
  • If, in addition to headaches, the patient also presents loss of consciousness, an electroencephalogram is recommended.
  • Other investigations: CT scan, MRI, lumbar puncture – depending on the specialist’s observations.

Headache in children

Headache in children is often associated with colds and infections of the sinuses, ears or throat. Other causes:

  • Dehydration
  • Ophthalmological diseases
  • Dental diseases
  • Lack of restful sleep
  • Too much screen time
  • Meningitis
  • Head trauma
  • Brain tumors

Contact the emergency doctor if you notice children who are complaining of:

  • Any headache, if they are under 4 years of age
  • Headache right when they wake up from sleep
  • Headaches that become increasingly frequent or intense
  • Headache, fever, vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches accompanied by blurred vision
  • Headache after fall or a hit
  • Headache accompanied by loss of consciousness

Headache: Ophthalmologic treatment

In the case of headache of ocular origin, the ophthalmological examination will also determine the type of treatment. Depending on the severity of the disorder, the patient may be prescribed the following:

  • Prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Topical treatment based on eye drops
  • Medication (analgesics, anti-inflammatories, vasoconstrictors)
  • Laser eye surgery

Dr. Holhoș clinics are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and technology in the ophthalmology industry. These, in the hands of the specialists within the Dr. Holhoș network, will improve not only the quality of your vision, but also the quality of your life.

Text medically reviewed by Dr. Teodor Holhoș, Ophthalmic Surgeon
Written by Dr. Holhos Team
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