Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes that has the possibility of causing headaches. This condition can occur if the fluid in the eye does not drain properly, or if there is an over-production of fluid. The result is that it causes increased pressure within the eye and prolonged increased pressure can lead to visual loss if not corrected.
The headache caused by glaucoma most times is felt in or around the eyes or the forehead, and the intensity varies from mild to severe. At times nausea and vomiting can also accompany the headache. Glaucoma is often called a “silent thief of sight” because the symptom does not occur not until the late stages of the disease when central vision might have been affected. But there are still some other forms of glaucoma that causes headaches.
Chronic forms of glaucoma such as primary open-angle glaucoma do not cause headaches while acute forms of glaucoma that occurs when the drainage system suddenly closes and eye pressure increases rapidly definitely can cause headaches. Other forms of secondary glaucoma cause very high eye pressure and can also result in headaches.
The best thing for an individual who regularly experiences headaches is to get a vision test. This is because migraine which is a form of headache is a symptom of several common vision impairments. Other conditions that can cause headaches are:
- Farsightedness or presbyopia (a condition where it is difficult to see objects up close)
- Nearsightedness (a condition where it is difficult to see objects far away)
- Astigmatism (a condition where you see blurry vision at all distances)
- Monocular vision (a condition where one eye adopts the majority of visual tasks)
Some disorders that affect the eyes can also cause headaches. It is natural to feel concerned if the pain you’re going through is a result of glaucoma. Regular headaches most times manifest their presence behind the eyes.
While the most common form of glaucoma known as open-angle glaucoma progresses “silently,” without any noticeable symptoms like headaches or eye pain. You still have some sudden-onset forms of the disease that can cause headaches ranging from dull and throbbing to sharp and debilitating. Though it might not be common in comparison to open-angle glaucoma, they do occur with little or no warning.
So, can glaucoma cause headaches? And, if so, which glaucoma can cause headaches?
Neovascular Glaucoma is one form of glaucoma that can cause very high eye pressure and headache. It is a secondary form of glaucoma where abnormal blood vessels grow over the drainage system. This can be the result of the growth of the abnormal iris and drainage-angle vessels when a person has a more severe form of diabetic eye disease called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This condition can also occur after vascular occlusions (obstructions) in the eye, such as central retinal vein occlusion.
Though there are other less common causes of neovascular glaucoma, they still have the same basic problem of the growth of these abnormal vessels. At times, the drainage angle is completely covered and the eye pressure climbs suddenly very high. When this condition arises, the patient will be experiencing symptoms of headache, blurred vision, pain, and nausea. The only out and the best way to prevent these forms of glaucoma is to have routine dilated eye exams, especially if you are diabetic.
Angle-closure glaucoma is another form of glaucoma that has the possibility of causing very high eye pressure and headache. This condition causes the drainage angle to completely close, which results in the eye pressure to more rapidly increase. The patient concerned might experience headaches, blurred vision, pain, and at times nausea. One way of treating this type of glaucoma attack is to lower the eye pressure with medicine. Another way is by using a procedure called laser iridotomy.
If you’re experiencing regular headaches, you should discuss these symptoms with your doctor, because other potential causes of these headaches do not relate to the eyes. Though glaucoma is not a common cause of headaches, any time you’re experiencing any form of the symptoms mentioned above and you are concerned that it may be related to your eyes, why not go for an eye examination?