• 08 APR 13
    Headache and Eyestrain

    Headache and Eyestrain


    • Disorders of the eye that can cause a headache, are eyestrain, focus difficulties, vergence (the ability of the eyes to pull in and look at close range or relax out and look far) difficulties, inflammatory eye conditions, eye diseases such as acute glaucoma (pressure within the eye suddenly increases causing intense pain within the eye), together with various other conditions.
    • The only way to eliminate any condition causing the headache is to have a comprehensive eye examination, should the headache not be due to a visual problem, we refer the patient to the respective domain for further evaluation.
    • There are many conditions wherein the eyes are not directly involved, but the headache appears to be in the region of the eye. This is then termed ‘referred pain’ and can only be determined by a full visual evaluation.


    Eyestrain/Focus spasm

    This refers to accommodative spasm or spasm of the muscles associated with the art of focus. Focus ability is very apt to spasm in the younger school going individual owing the length of time the person is expected to work at the near range, such as book, desk or even computer work. As a result the closer the individual views the near work the increase in focus ability, however in this modern world, ‘too much, too close for too long’ seems to be the order of the day.

    In a young person (school going or students at university etc) whose focus ability is very pliable the focus mechanism and system is very easily able to get ‘stuck’ (for want of a better word) in spasm, leading to the occurrence of certain symptoms such as:

    • Near range blurring
    • When suddenly looking up at a distant object, the object is initially blurred taking time to clear
    • Headaches in the region of the eye, or across the forehead.


    This changes as one gets older, when the ability to focus diminishes and the need for spectacles for near range becomes obvious – most people say: their arm is suddenly too short.

    The age for this change varies, according to the type of work the individual does, e.g. computer users will need reading spectacles earlier in life than a farmer would, similarly, a far sighted person will need reading spectacles sooner in life than a short sighted person. Therefore the need for reading spectacles will vary in age from person to person.

    Symptoms included at this stage could be:

    • Headache, usually a brow ache or an ache behind the eyes.
    • Fluctuating vision, trouble in changing focusing between near and distance.
    • Inability to focus at close range, or blurred distance vision occurring after a period of close work.
    • Burning, discomfort within the eyeball, gritty feeling in the eye.


    Eyestrain symptoms can be relieved by

    1. Limiting the amount of time spent focusing at one fixed distance, and taking periodic breaks for a few minutes every 15 to 20 minutes. During this break time, focus at a distant object, not at a near one.
    2. Varying the distance that you hold reading material, and avoid getting closer and closer to what you are reading.
    3. Considering the use of reading spectacles.


    Alway’s have a full visual evaluation with the Optometrist to determine the correct prescription for the readers, before purchasing ready-made readers. In most cases, the choice one makes when purchasing ready-made readers is incorrect, and can result in further eyestrain and headaches.

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Michele Hlava Optometrists

Service Excellence. We enjoy and are disciplined to a team approach, and look upon our patients and clients as part of our family.

Michele Hlava Optometrists
Physical Address
18 Dirkie Uys Street
Somerset West

GPS 34°4’53.56"S +18°50’51.60"E

Postal Address
P.O.Box 177
Somerset West
Vergelegen Optometrists
Vergelegen Plein Checkers centre
Sir Lowrys Pass Rd.
Somerset West
Sanctuary Optometrists
Shop G4, The Sanctuary,
De Beers Avenue, Paardevlei,
Somerset West, 7130.
  • M.Hlava Optometrist Phone: +27 21 852 3667

  • M.Hlava Optometrist Fax: +27 21 851 7890

  • M.Hlava Email: aspec@iafrica.com

  • Vergelegen Phone: +27 21 851 1670

  • Vergelegen Fax: 086 542 1904

  • Vergelegen Email: aspec2@telkomsa.net

  • Sanctuary Optometrists: +27 21 492 3903

  • Sanctuary Email: aspec4@iafrica.com