Headaches are difficult to deal with. It is difficult for the person suffering from the discomfort and pain. Headaches can also be difficult for doctors due to the many reasons that headaches occur. Multifactorial is the term used when there are more than one factor that contributes to a condition and headaches often times are multifactorial. A quick search on the Mayo Clinic site shows 29 conditions that can cause headaches. But one factor that is too often over looked (including on the Mayo Clinic site) in the proper diagnosis of headache is vision.
WC a 9 year old boy came to the office with complaints about headaches when trying to read. He was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency and asked to return for further evaluation to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. WC’s parents had no idea that his vision was compromised because he has the ability to see clearly. They were correct in that he has 20/20 vision and no farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism. If the eye examination starts and stops at the eye then patients such as WC are potentially never diagnosed properly. We are confident that the majority of WC’s headaches are due to his vision and that he will have an easier time once his vision issue is corrected.
If you or a loved one are suffering from headaches and the following patterns are true then a vision problem is contributing to the headache until proven otherwise:
- Location of the headache is around the eyes
- Headaches occur after a visual task such as reading looking at a device
- The headaches are more frequent after school/work
- The headaches do not occur upon wakening
Not all headaches are due to a vision problem but some are. An eye examination that measures vision beyond eye sight should be performed to properly diagnose vision related headaches. Make sure to talk to your eye doctor about convergence and focusing if headaches are an issue.