A number of different headache types or other conditions can cause aches in the area behind one or both eyes. Along with pain, headaches in this area may also cause sensitivity to light and eye discomfort.
While headaches of any type are common, knowing the cause can help you treat them at home. It can also help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis in order to administer the most effective treatment.
Tension headaches are described as causing a tightening feeling or pressure around the forehead. Pain behind the eyes can also occur. Other symptoms associated with this form of headache include:
- dull head pain
- scalp tenderness
- neck and forehead pain
- increased sensitivity to light
Cluster headaches can last as short as 15 minutes to over an hour. They’re described as a searing or piercing painful sensation usually located behind one eye. They often wake people from sleep.
Other symptoms you may experience with cluster headaches include:
- red eyes
- swollen eyes
- red or swollen nose
- restlessness and agitation
- changes in heart rate and blood pressure
- sensitivity to light, sound, or smell
- excessive tearing
A migraine episode usually starts gradually and builds in intensity. Untreated migraine episodes may last from 4 to 72 hours.
Aside from pain, you may also experience:
- sensitivity to light
- sensitivity to noise
- sensitivity to odors
- eye pain
- impaired vision
- mood changes
- flashing or bright lights, the appearance of heat waves (aura)
- muscle weakness
- trouble speaking
- numbness on one side of the body
- loss of appetite
Eyestrain can be caused by uncorrected vision issues or by an excess of visual stress from staring at a computer, phone screen, television, or book. Experts believe that headaches due to eyestrain can be due to a variety of factors, including:
- altered blinking patterns (reduced and incomplete blinking)
- excessive exposure to intense light
- small font size
- sitting too close to a screen
This congestion is usually coupled with pressure often felt across the forehead, cheeks, and behind the eye. In addition to pain and pressure, other symptoms you may experience
- stuffy nose
- runny nose
- mucus running down throat (post-nasal drip)
- aches in your upper teeth
- worsening pain when you lie down
Other eye conditions that may cause headache pain behind the eye include:
- alcohol use
- exposure to strong perfume odors
- loud noises
- bright lights
- hormonal changes
- lack of sleep
- emotional stress
However, these medications should be used sparingly to prevent so-called “rebound headaches.” These can occur after your body becomes accustomed to the medication, spiking pain once the medication wears off.
In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe drugs to prevent migraine. These
Headaches may have multiple causes or triggers. Because of this, experts
Strategies to reduce headaches and their symptoms
- exercising daily
- relaxing whenever possible to ease stress
- establishing a consistent sleep schedule
- avoiding or reducing the intake of processed foods
- staying adequately hydrated
- avoiding or limiting alcohol use
- eliminating tobacco use
- avoiding or limiting caffeine intake
If your condition worsens or if you begin to experience irregular symptoms paired with your headache pain, seek immediate medical attention. It could be a sign of a more serious vision issue that needs correction or a medical issue needing treatment.
Nondrug therapies may be used alongside or instead of traditional therapies to help prevent headaches and reduce symptoms.
Examples of nondrug treatments that may help improve or reduce headache symptoms
- undergoing biofeedback and stress management training to help you gain awareness of and improve your body’s stress levels and
better cope with symptoms
- using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help manage stress, cope with symptoms, and identify headache triggers
- undergoing acupuncture or pressure point therapy to
reduce stress and pain symptoms
- practicing mindfulness meditation to help reduce stress
- applying cold or heat therapy to the head or back of the neck
to reduce pain
How do you prevent headaches behind the eyes?
Headaches can be caused by a variety of triggers that may vary among individuals. Keeping a “symptom diary” with detailed records of when your headaches occur may help you understand your headache triggers so that you can avoid them.
How do you diagnose the type of headache?
A doctor will take a full medical history and physical exam when diagnosing a headache. Keeping a symptom diary in the days or weeks leading up to your doctor’s appointment may help them make a diagnosis.
In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further testing.
What are home remedies for headaches behind the eyes?
Home remedies to reduce headache pain
- applying a cold compress to the forehead or back of the neck
- applying heat to the back of the neck
- resting in a dark room
- drinking lots of fluid
Headaches behind your eyes aren’t uncommon. The pain may be the result of various common headache types.
However, if your headache pain and discomfort begin to affect your vision or are accompanied by abnormal symptoms, you should consult your doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can receive treatment to prevent or reduce your headache episodes and symptoms.