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Headache behind eyes

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Headache is a pain or discomfort in the head or face. The headache can be anywhere around your head, face, neck, and sometimes even go further down to your shoulders and hands. Many times the headache feels right behind the eyes and this can lead to light sensitivity. Some people may experience an ache behind their left eye, right eye or both eyes at the same time. There are many different types of health conditions which can cause ache behind one or both eyes. We will try to cover some factors that can lead to headache behind the eyes.

Trying to understand your headache better is one step towards diagnosing your health condition better and towards a better treatment. In case your headaches are becoming worse and degrading your quality of life, we recommend a visit to your doctor and discussing your condition in detail.

Headache behind eyes

Why is there Headache pain behind my eyes?

There can be many reasons due to which it can feel as if there is a headache pain behind the eyes. In many headache types such as Migraine or Cluster headache people often report headache on one side of head. This could also be headache behind left eye or headache behind right eye along with other symptoms.

We will cover some of the common causes for headache pain behind the eyes.

Read more – 10 Quick and easy ways to sleep better

Eye Strain

Eye strain is one of the most common causes for headache pain. This is due to excess stress on the eyes and can appear in the form of headaches, blurred vision, redness in the eyes. Quite often headache pain may also feel like a stabbing pain behind the eyes. You may also experience pain near the neck, shoulder or upper back along with pain in the eyes.

Eye strain can also happen due to uncorrected visions and it is good to have a consultation with doctor. Mostly if the pain is due to uncorrected vision doctor may prescribe glasses which will help reduce or completely remove these headaches. In case you are already prescribed glasses and you start experience the headaches it is time to book a consultation to check your eyesight.


Migraine is a neurological health condition that involves severe or moderate recurring headaches along with other symptoms. They are usually reported as throbbing pain on one side of the head and a headache episode called as migraine attack can continue from 3 – 4 hours up-to few days. These can happen several times during a week.

Migraine is complex and symptoms can include some or most of the following –

  • problem with eyesight such as seeing flashing lights or halo
  • head pain
  • Sensitivity to light aka Photophobia
  • tiredness especially on one side of the body (same side as the pain in head)
  • Nausea,
  • Running or blocked nose
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion

Read more – Is the painkiller causing you headache?


Sinusitis is the swelling of sinuses usually caused by infection. It can cause headaches due to nasal congestion. The headache due to congestion is felt mostly around the nose, eyes, cheeks and forehead. Sinusitis headache is quite common after Cold or Flu. Common symptoms include –

  • Blocked nose
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness around cheeks, nose, eyes and forehead
  • toothache
  • bad breath
  • yellow or green mucus from nose
  • fever

Cluster Headache

Cluster headache are sudden and very painful headaches in one side of the head and often felt around the eyes. Cluster headaches are very rare but are quite common in men and can happen between the age of 30s and 40s. An attack can happen more than once same day and may range from an hour to up to 3 hours.

The exact cause of Cluster headache is not known but it could be genetically linked. This is due to the fact that people having Cluster headache may have a family history of such headaches.

Cluster headaches start very quickly and are described as sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head. It is felt mostly around the eyes, face and temple. It could be accompanied with one or more of the following symptoms –

  • A red and watering eye
  • Sweaty face
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Smaller pupil in one eye
  • Dropping or swelling in eyelid
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and smell
  • Restlessness and agitation

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches and many people experience them. Common symptoms include –

  • Pain on both sides of the head, face, neck and eye
  • Mostly feels like tightness or pressure on the head
  • Tenderness around the area where you are experiencing pain
  • Sensitivity to light

Mostly people are able to carry their activities while experiencing this headache without making it worst. It can range from half an hour to several days. Mostly the headache is due to Stress, Sleep problem, Caffeine. Taking painkillers too often may also cause these headaches. They are often termed as medicine induced headaches or Rebound headaches.

What triggers headache pain behind eyes?

Different type of headaches can trigger due to variety of reasons.

Common triggers for eyestrains include –

  • Reading or working in an inadequately lit area – too dim or too much intense light
  • Focusing for a long time on one single task. Example driving or reading.
  • Eye strain due to digital devices – Digital Eye Syndrome such as poor posture, failing to blink often while watching Reels, videos etc, holding devices too close or far, extended exposure to blue light.
  • Uncorrected vision,
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems

Common triggers for migraine include –

  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Hunger
  • Noise
  • Some food types such as Cheese, Chocolate etc
  • Skipping your magnesium dose
  • Environmental changes such as bad weather etc
  • Bright light

Read more – 11 Food that trigger migraine

Common triggers for Cluster headache include –

  • Stress
  • Sleep problems
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking

Common triggers for Tension type headache includes –

  • Poor posture
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meal
  • Noise
  • Muscle problems in neck, shoulder or jaws

Read more – 10 Common Habits that trigger migraine

Treatment for headache pain behind eyes?

Mostly the headaches can be cured with over the counter medicines such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Combiflame, Asprin etc. However these painkillers must not be taken frequently to avoid having rebound headaches. Certain ointments and cooling oils can also help ease the headaches and also avoid medicine overuse.

Rebound headaches can happen due to too much use of over the counter painkiller medicines as the body becomes accustomed to the medicine. In such case as soon as the effect of painkiller starts to wear off you may start experiencing headache again.

Medical practitioners often recommend muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, beta blockers and magnesium to prevent headaches such as migraine, cluster and tension type headaches. Your headache cure can be as simple as booking an appointment with optician and getting your vision corrected.

To find the correct treatment for headache it is often recommended to make a daily journal of your headache. This helps you keep record of your food habits and lifestyle choices that may be inducing these headaches. They are also helpful in your next appointment with your doctor.

Not all the treatments work equally well for different type of headaches hence keeping a journal is one step towards understanding your headache better and curing it.

Some of the other methods to cure headache are –

  • Good Sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Staying hydrated
  • Avoiding foods that trigger your headache
  • Look out for environmental changes
  • Wearing sunglasses when outdoor
  • Having a well lit room
  • Dark room rest

Bottom Line

Headache behind eyes could be a problem associated with your eyesight or it could be a symptom of other headache types such as Migraine, Cluster headache, tension headache etc. Keeping a record of your lifestyle choices such as food that you eat, stress and keeping note of headache symptoms may help you understand your headache better.

A headache journal can be helpful in your next meeting with your doctor. Managing headache could be the only choice for certain people as making lifestyle improvements may minimise the attacks but not completely cure it. It is quite common for a person with family history of headache to have one themselves. Certain changes to lifestyles and managing your headache triggers can be quite helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of attacks.