Are my eyes to blame?

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Well, the Well Blog from the New York Times has really been striking out for me.  In my last entry, Is "when to send kids to school" a scientific decision?, I examined one of the studies presented in this blog.  After evaluating it, I realized that there was little value to the study even though the title of the article was compelling.  This time, I found an article that was even more compelling for me personally because it examines something that I experienced as a child.

The article, Really? Eye Problems Can Cause Headaches in Children, was interesting because as a child, I suffered from frequent headaches that did decrease after I began wearing glasses regularly.  That being said, I disagree with the conclusion that "vision problems are often blamed for childhood headaches, but in reality, the two are rarely related."  In my personal experience, I have found that the two do have a some sort of correlation.  

This brings up the classic problem of causation versus correlation.  The title is very misleading in using the word "cause" because it suggests a causal relationship when the "bottom line" of the article suggests that there isn't even a correlation between the two.  

After reading this article, I felt the need to explore other research regarding the topic because I was unsatisfied that my personal experience contradicted the results of this study.  My first search lead me to the Headaches and Eye Problems page on the Better Health Channel website.  Although this information simply provides conditions and treatments for medical disorders and does not feature specific studies, it did support my personal finding that vision problems and headaches are related.  

The way that the Better Health Channel explains the correlation between vision problems and headaches made more sense to me than the results of the first study.  The site suggested that "the headache is caused by the person squinting and overworking the eye muscles in an attempt to better focus their vision" and that "problems of internal pressure and swelling within the structures of the eye can 'refer' pain into other areas of the head."  The bottom line from this source is that "eyestrain can cause or contribute to recurring headaches."

It seems as though there will always be contradictions in information related to the causes of headaches.  At the very least, it is helpful for headache sufferers (such as myself) to examine potential causes of frequent headaches and make adjustments to see if these problems are at all related to their suffering.  For sufferers of frequent headaches, even a small life style change could be enough to slightly lessen the intensity of their pain which could greatly improve their quality of life. Therefore, if you do suffer from headaches, it might be worth it to get your eyes checked.

1 Comment

I definitely agree that it is worth it to have your eyes checked if you experience frequent headaches. I have heard many times that the incorrect eye prescription can cause headaches and it makes me wonder how our senses are linked to pain and headaches. Obviously, there is a link between touch and experiencing pain, but maybe sight is also correlated.

For me, I have always found that I experience headaches after I cry- why is this? Apparently, it doesn't have much to do with the nervous system. According to Live Strong, it is because of things like dehydration, stress, or other situational factors.

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