Headache Behind Eyes

There are specific reasons that can lead to the appearance of a headache behind the eyes, with some of the most common ones involving the eyes or the nerves in the area. It is important to understand that the headache behind the eyes almost always appears accompanied by other symptoms (you can read about them below). The symptoms can guide the doctor towards the root cause of the problem, allowing him/her to prescribe the correct diagnosis. The sooner the exact cause is identified, the sooner you get treated and forget about ever having such problems.

Such headaches can appear behind both eyes, or behind one of the eyes. Sometimes, the headache can be quite intense, being accompanied by a shooting pain behind the eyes. It is also possible that a cluster headache occurs, the pain/discomfort coming and going. The essential thing that is you do not ignore these symptoms and visit a medical professional for the correct diagnosis

Causes of Headache Behind Eyes

These are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of the headache behind the eyes:


  • Commonly appears behind the eyes
  • Also known as ophthalmoplegic migraine
  • Duration – days or months at a time
  • May be accompanied by partial/complete vision loss
  • Other symptoms include:
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Numbness
    • Confusion
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

Dry eye syndrome

  • One of the manifestations of the syndrome is the headache behind the eyes (sign that the eyes are excessively dry)
  • Risk factors for such problems include:
    • Watching television from too close a distance
    • Staring at the computer screen for several hours in a row


  • Infection + inflammation at the level of the sinuses
  • The headache behind the eyes is often described as “throbbing”
  • Runny nose/stuffiness present
  • Fever – sign of infection
  • Light sensitivity can appear in the more severe cases

Vision problems

  • Long sightedness (hyperopia)
    • Object focused on the retina, instead of on it
    • Straining of the eye is necessary for the object to be perceived accurately
    • Eye muscles weaken – increased risk for such headaches
  • Astigmatism
    • The shape of the retina is irregular
    • Increased susceptibility to headache behind the eyes
    • The objects cannot be accurately perceived from certain angles, the person being forced to strain the eyes (hence the appearance of the headache behind the eyes)

Orbital inflammatory syndrome

  • Unknown cause
  • Diagnosis is made with the help of imaging studies (CT scan)
  • Inflammation of the muscles around the eyes, with pressure at the level of the eyes and the brain cavity
  • Painful headaches can appear behind the eyes
  • More severe symptoms behind the left eye


  • Inflammatory disorder
  • Often seen in patients who also suffer from gout/rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammation and redness at the level of the eyes
  • Recurring bouts of pain

Optic neuritis

  • Inflammation of the nerves around the eyes
  • The condition can spread to the muscles in the area, leading to intense headaches behind the eyes
  • Recurring condition
  • Vision can become blurry

Cranial nerve palsies

  • Erratic blood supply to the eyes
  • Often seen in those who suffer from diabetes (circulatory system affected)
  • Extreme pain and headache behind the eyes
  • Double vision can appear as an associated symptom

Hormonal cycle

  • The headache behind the eyes can not only appear but also become more intense around the time of the menstruation
  • The fluctuation of hormones can have a negative impact on the blood vessels in the brain, favoring the appearance of the headache (contracted blood vessels).

How to Get Rid of Headache Behind Eyes

These are the treatment measures that can be considered for the headache behind the eyes:

  • Specific therapies (recommended for chronic or cluster headaches)
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
    • Manual therapy
      • Useful for relieving the pain/discomfort associated with the headache behind the eyes
      • Deep breathing is recommended, so as to promote the circulation of blood in the area
  • Steam inhalation
    • Recommended for those who suffer from sinusitis-related headaches
    • The regular inhalation of the steam can help with the drainage of the mucus that has collected at the level of the sinuses
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
    • Can bring relief from the pain and also reduce the associated inflammation
    • Recommended choices – acetaminophen, ibuprofen
  • Decongestant
    • Recommended for those who suffer from sinusitis
    • Can relieve the pressure that is felt at the level of the sinuses, thus improving the headache
  • Other treatment solutions
    • Supplemental oxygen for cluster headaches
    • Saline solution/Nasal spray for sinusitis.

Precautions to Take

In the situation that you are suffering from high blood pressure, make sure that you do not take any symptomatic medication before talking to the doctor. Also, when suffering from such headaches, it might be a good idea to avoid taking certain medication or oral contraceptives. It is also recommended to eliminate the foods that contain nitrates from your diet, as well as all the foods that have been excessively processed or those that are frozen.

Those who suffer from hypertension have to eliminate the foods that are rich in sodium from their diet, as these can aggravate the condition and also the associated headaches. It is clear that both alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden, as they both have a negative effect on the circulation, making the headache behind the eyes to be even more intense.

How to Deal with Headache Behind Eyes

These are the self-care measures you can take when it comes to dealing with such problems:

  • Sleep at least eight hours per night, as getting enough rest can really improve the symptomatology caused by headaches
  • The room in which you sleep should be dark and quiet, so as to guarantee the best atmosphere for sleeping
  • Don’t sleep for longer than you were supposed to, as this too can aggravate an already-existent headache
  • Try and drink a cup of coffee or black tea, as these can help you improve the symptoms of the headaches
  • Make sure that you eat at regular intervals, so as to keep your blood sugar level constant and prevent the fluctuations that could have a negative impact on the brain and its receptors.


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