You know the old saying “Eyes are windows to the soul”. That may well be true in a metaphysical sense, but here’s something more tangible: your eyes are connected to your brain. I’ll admit, that’s a bit less catchy, but it can help us gain some interesting insights. When you have a bad headache, or a migraine, you’re probably not in the mood to stare at any strobe lights; here, we look at the connection between vision and headaches.

Eye Strain

One of the trickiest things about your eyes and headaches is that it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where pain is coming from, and even if you do manage to pinpoint it, it’s no guarantee that the location of the pain has anything to do with its source. Eye strain, which occurs when you’ve been using your eyes too much for particular tasks (like staring at a computer screen – blink!). There’s a number of reasons eye strain might cause your head to ache, but the main one is that your eye’s muscles are sore, much like you might feel after an intense workout. As I mentioned, it’s hard to know if a headache is caused by eyestrain, because so many other things can cause headaches, but if you feel one coming on, step away from your computer, and rest your eyes for awhile.

Migraines and Eyes

Eyes and the brain: name a more iconic duo. Truth be told, I’ve always kind of hated that meme, because it’s often easy to name more iconic duos; maybe that’s the joke? Either way, I have another iconic duo for you: migraines and light sensitivity (called photophobia by those in the know). You might experience greater degrees of photophobia before a migraine, and once the migraine hits, you might find the symptoms of your migraine are aggravated by light. The reason this happens isn’t entirely well understood, because the cause of migraines isn’t entirely well understood.

Migraines can do more to your eyes than just make them sensitive to light, though. Some migraine sufferers will experience visual effects, including spots of bright light, wavy, distorted vision, and flashing lights. These effects are clear signs you have a migraine; some will experience them before the headache, so get your painkillers handy, get a bottle of water, turn off the lights, and get ready.

When you get migraines, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor; about 14% of Canadians have suffered from migraines, and there’s a number of methods to reduce their severity. One of the most urgent types of migraine is the ocular migraine; these migraines are coupled with visual symptoms in only one eye, and they often include blindness in that eye. The severity of ocular migraines can’t be understated; there are times that the blindness that occurs from these migraines becomes permanent. Talk to a Winnipeg optometrist if you’ve experienced these symptoms; they’ll make sure there’s no present threat to your health. Should you experience an ocular migraine, go see a doctor immediately.