It may be your eyes:
The Link Between Sinus Headaches, Eye Pain & Computer Use

The Link Between Sinus Headaches, Eye Pain & Computer Use

A headache is a common malady that can be brought on by a variety of different factors, such as stress, anxiety, noise, hunger, or poor sleep. In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of teenagers and young adults who suffer from headaches on an almost daily basis. According to one study, 45 million Americans complain of headaches each year. This is no surprise considering the large amount of time spent on computers and hand-held electronic devices. In this article, we will explore the connection between headaches, sinus eye pain, and computer use. We will cover why people get headaches, what causes sinus eye pain, and how to alleviate symptoms from computer use.

Find out if you Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction AND GET THE CARE YOU NEED TODAY

Headaches Remain the Most Common Ailment

In 2023, headaches remain the number one common ailment among the United States population. This can be blamed on a number of factors including increased stress and anxiety levels, extended computer use and screen time, allergies, and more. Headaches are no doubt painful and annoying, yet they seem almost impossible to avoid for some people.

How Sinus Infections Affect the Eyes

Chronic sinusitis, when left untreated or poorly managed, can have a notable impact on the eyes. One of the most common ways this occurs is through the development of sinus-related eye symptoms. The continuous inflammation and congestion in the sinuses can exert pressure on the surrounding structures, including the eye sockets and adjacent tissues. This pressure can lead to discomfort and pain around the eyes, often described as a dull ache or pressure sensation. In some cases, the pressure can even cause changes in vision, such as blurred vision or difficulty focusing.  Additionally, the inflammation associated with chronic sinusitis can trigger the release of histamines, which may contribute to eye irritation, pressure behind the eyes, redness, and itching. Furthermore, chronic sinusitis can lead to the accumulation of mucus in the nasal passages, which can obstruct the tear ducts, resulting in dry eyes and an increased risk of eye infections. It's crucial for individuals experiencing chronic sinusitis to seek medical attention and proper treatment to alleviate these eye-related symptoms and prevent potential complications. A viral infection can also cause sinus infection symptoms including frequent headaches, runny nose, facial pressure, and more. Sometimes what is mistaken as sinus pressure can actually be from a different underlying cause. Especially if you experience blurry vision or light sensitivity with your other symptoms.  This underlying cause is called Binocular Vision Dysfunction.

What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) is a visual disorder characterized by a misalignment or imbalance in the way the eyes work together. In individuals with BVD, the two eyes struggle to coordinate and focus on a single point simultaneously, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms may include eye strain, headaches, double vision, difficulty reading or concentrating, dizziness, and balance issues.  BVD can be caused by various factors, such as eye muscle imbalances, neurological conditions, or eye disorders, and it can significantly affect a person's quality of life. 

How Prolonged Computer Use Affects the Eyes

A large amount of effort is required and it is very taxing to the visual system to keep one’s eyes focused and the vision clear while staring at a computer screen (or that of some other digital device) for hours at a time. If the eyes are out of alignment as well, the eye muscles become even more overworked as they struggle to correct the misalignment. This can then lead to eye strain, facial pain, and headaches. Many of these patients also complain of facial pain and pain with eye movement, especially after long bouts of computer usage. A great number of these people were diagnosed with chronic sinus headaches or migraine disorder and tried many of the recommended medications and treatments, yet saw little to no improvement in their condition.  In the majority of these cases, it’s possible that Binocular Vision Dysfunction was present but wasn’t diagnosed because it was never even considered as a possible cause and/or because a proper binocular vision evaluation was never performed.

Find out if you Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction AND GET THE CARE YOU NEED TODAY

Sinus Headaches or BVD?

Distinguishing between a sinus headache or bacterial infection and Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) can be challenging because both conditions can share similar symptoms. Sinus headaches are often associated with pain or pressure in the forehead, cheeks, or around the eyes and are typically accompanied by nasal congestion or sinusitis.  On the other hand, BVD can also lead to headaches, often described as frontal or temple pain, but it's primarily related to visual strain and eye discomfort, including more serious symptoms like double vision, dizziness, and difficulty with reading or focusing. To differentiate between the two, it's essential to consider other associated symptoms. Cluster headaches usually coincide with signs of sinus congestion or infection, such as a runny or stuffy nose, facial tenderness, and discolored nasal discharge.  In contrast, BVD symptoms are primarily related to visual discomfort, reading/learning issues, and heightened anxiety, and may not present with typical sinus-related issues. If you are getting a stiff neck, having trouble balancing, or feeling nauseous, those may be signs that you have more than just sinus problems.

How a NeuroVisual Examination Can Help

A detailed NeuroVisual Evaluation by the doctors at Vision Specialists of Michigan can find even the smallest of misalignments. Developed by our very own Dr. Debby Feinberg, this comprehensive ocular and binocular vision exam takes about an hour and a half. If a misalignment is present, no matter how slight, this evaluation will identify it.  Once a binocular vision disorder is diagnosed, the condition can be treated with a pair of glasses containing specialized micro-prism lenses, which will correct the misalignment and allow the overworked eye muscles to relax. This customized prescription may require tweaking a time or two, but for most people, the glasses greatly reduce or even eliminate the symptoms within a short period of time. After getting micro-prism lenses your eye pressure, tension headaches, and other symptoms will greatly improve. Many people don't realize that one way to treat headaches is to book a comprehensive NeuroVisual™ exam that goes beyond a routine eye exam in checking for BVD.

Find out if you Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction AND GET THE CARE YOU NEED TODAY

Could It Be Your Eyes?

If you’re suffering from headaches, migraines, eye or facial pain, or dizziness and nausea, start by taking our online BVD questionnaire. To set an appointment, contact Vision Specialists of Michigan at (248) 258-9000. If we determine that Binocular Vision Dysfunction is present, we can quickly help you receive relief from your symptoms and get you back on your way to a life free of severe pain and visual problems.

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Tagged With: Headaches and Migraines,

It may be your eyes

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  • American Academy Optometry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Michigan Optometric Association
  • VEDA
  • Neuro Optometry Rehabilitation Association