Post Traumatic Headache: Everything You Need To Know

It may be your eyes:

Post Traumatic Headache: Everything You Need To Know

It may be your eyes:


If you experience a concussion, you are at risk of a Post Traumatic Headache (PTH). For those who get a concussion and experience a new headache within 7 days of their injury, it could be a Post Traumatic Headache.

Woman in bed suffering from post traumatic headache.

What are Symptoms/Signs of a Post Traumatic Headache Related to Concussion?

Post Traumatic Headaches symptoms can range from mild to severe and include the following:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in your head that pulses
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound

Sometimes a PTH headache can feel like a post traumatic migraine.

What Causes Post-Traumatic Headaches?

While the exact causes of PTH are still being studied, it is believed that it could be caused by brain swelling or shrinkage, restricted blood flow, and muscle tightening. When any of these occur, the result is the above-mentioned symptoms.

Several factors can increase your risk of PTH and Persistent PTH, including:

  • Being female
  • Family history of headaches
  • Pre-existing headaches

How Long Does a Post-Traumatic Headache Last?

Most Post Traumatic Headaches clear up within 3 months. However, sometimes symptoms persist and this is known as Persistent PTH, or chronic Post Traumatic Headache.

Post Traumatic Headache Syndrome treatment typically includes medication, such as anti-inflammatories or pain medicines. These are usually prescribed within the first few weeks of the symptom onset. If symptoms persist for more than several weeks, additional medication might be prescribed, including antidepressants and blood pressure medication.

Man holding head and suffering from headache symptoms.

It Could Be Your Eyes: Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD)

What if your persistent symptoms of PTH are actually due to an entirely different condition known as Binocular Vision Dysfunction? Binocular Vision Dysfunction, also known as BVD, occurs when our eyes are slightly misaligned and can lead to symptoms commonly confused with PTH.

BVD is the result of a slight misalignment between our eyes. While this misalignment can be very subtle, it can make it incredibly difficult for our eyes to send one clear image to our brain.

Here’s what happens when someone has BVD: With two eyes, we are able to see one clear image. This is because our brain is able to transform the images seen by each eye into a single image, which is known as binocular vision.

In patients with BVD, there is a slight misalignment between their eyes resulting in their eyes being out of sync with one another, causing the brain to have a very difficult time processing those two separate images to form one clear image.

The result? The brain forces the eye aligning muscles to fix the problem by realigning the eyes. But the realignment is only temporary and misalignment then recurs, which is followed closely by realignment, and the cycle of misalignment and realignment continues. Over time, this places an immense amount of strain on the eye muscles and leads to dizziness and headaches, as well as a variety of other symptoms similar to PTH. Additionally, a patient's BVD symptoms can also be caused by a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Symptoms of BVD

Common Symptoms for Adults and Children 14+ with Binocular Vision Dysfunction

The following is a list of common symptoms in adults with BVD:

  • Difficulty with balance / unsteady walking
  • Pain in the neck
  • Frequent head tilt
  • Motion sickness
  • Difficulty reading and learning
Woman with headache

Are your symptoms caused by BVD?

Symptoms of BVD in Children Ages 4 to 8-years-old

  • Poor handwriting (poor spacing, writing letters too big or small)
  • Difficulty reading
  • Avoiding activities
  • Playing with toys very close to their face
  • Sitting close to the TV
  • Difficulty identifying shapes, colors and numbers that are age-appropriate
  • Difficulty seeing the class board
  • Frequently bumping into objects
  • Difficulty catching balls
  • Stomach aches and headaches at school or away from home
  • Light sensitivity
  • Covering one eye to see
  • Anxiety in public places
  • Frequent squinting in order to see
Boy holding head due to headache.

Find out if your 4 to 8-year-old is experiencing symptoms due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Symptoms of BVD in Children Ages 9 to 13-years-old

  • Repeatedly bumping into things while walking
  • Having difficulty completing homework due to headaches and nausea
  • Repeatedly reading the same things over and over
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Closing one eye to make it easier to see
  • Blurred vision when using the computer
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes when looking at the blackboard in class
  • Verbal skills that are ahead of reading skills
  • Frequent blinking
Girl suffering from headache caused by BVD.

Find out if your 9 to 13-year-old is experiencing symptoms due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction:

How Do You Fix BVD?

BVD is treated by correcting the image misalignment using microprism lenses. These glasses bend light in a way that the images seen by your eyes are moved into the position they need to be in, resulting in realigned images. When the images seen by your two eyes are realigned, your brain can easily transform them into one, singular image. Your headache and nausea and other uncomfortable symptoms caused by BVD are significantly reduced or eliminated.

In fact, the average patient will notice a 50% reduction of symptoms by the end of their first visit. Over the next several visits, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan will fine-tune your lenses so that your headache, nausea, and other BVD symptoms can continue to improve and be eliminated.

How Is BVD Diagnosed?

In order to determine if your headaches and other symptoms are a result of BVD, we recommend you visit your primary care physician or a specialist to rule out other causes (such as PTH). If no cause is found for the symptoms, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan can help determine if BVD is the issue.

During your visit:

  1. We ask you to fill out a specialized questionnaire designed to screen for those who might have BVD.
  2. You will be asked to complete a detailed Health History form.
  3. An eye exam is performed to determine the need for correction of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism (a common imperfection in the eye’s curvature).
  4. A specialized exam is performed (NeuroVisual Evaluation) to determine if visual misalignment is present.
  5. If diagnosed with BVD, you will be fitted with a trial version of their new prescription. Most people notice a significant improvement in their symptoms within just a few minutes of putting on the trial lenses.

You can expect to spend approximately 3 hours in our office during your visit.

Get Treatment for Your Headaches

If you or a loved one are experiencing headaches or other symptoms mentioned above, contact our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan. If BVD is causing your visual symptoms, our microprism lenses just might be the solution you need.

Get treatment today.

Watch these videos of BVD patient experiences:

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