Eye Strain Headache – Causes and Management

Eye strain headache mostly present in people who work on a computer screen or try to focus on bright or dim lights for too long and making it difficult for them to focus on work, a condition known as asthenopia. The eyes get tired due to overuse and trigger a headache. The headache is felt behind the eyes, around the eyes, and in the temples. It usually goes away within an hour of taking an analgesic and giving rest to your eyes.

Symptoms of eye strain headache

The symptoms for an eye strain headache are typically linked to asthenopia and merely indicate the fatigue of eye muscles.

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Photophobia
  • Redness of eyes
  • Burning and itching in the eyes
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Loss of focus

Causes of eye strain headache

Eye strain headache or asthenopia is mostly caused due to working long hours in front of a computer screen. Other causes are:

  • Being exposed to bright lights
  • Driving for too long
  • Reading without taking rest
  • Being stressed out and fatigued causing tension headache
  • Using digital devices for long hours

Some factors that can make the conditions worse are:

  • Using devices that produce glare
  • Reading text from books that is out of focus
  • Poor posture causing fatigue and eye strain headache
  • Air getting into the eyes, causing them to dry out more quickly

Eye strain headache usually goes away once you take rest and is nothing serious but sometimes this can indicate an underlying eye condition that might require treatment.


Since the eye strain headache is caused due to excessive use of eyes and asthenopia developing as a result of it. This can easily be relieved by taking a few steps:


Taking a complete history and inquiring about the nature of the job, the root cause can be found. Any associated symptoms also indicate the cause. An ophthalmologist might take a detailed eye examination to find out any sort of vision problems or changes.


  • Giving rest between long reading hours
  • Adjust the light while watching television or working on the computer.
  • For children who start to develop headaches, limit their screen time
  • Use artificial tears, these are available over the counter and can help lubricate the eye.
  • Reduce glare.


  • Over the counter, analgesics can be taken such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
  • Natural tears can be used as a lubricant for dry eyes.
  • Muscle relaxants for fatigue.

When to consult a doctor

If taking any sort of precautions does not help and no amount of medicine relieves the pain you should book an appointment with your doctor and an ophthalmologist.


What type of pain is felt in the eye strain headache?

The tightness of the forehead and back of the head is most commonly observed. The headache is not pounding in character.

How do you know if it is actually eye strain?

By tracking the time of your headache and finding out if it is associated with working on a computer or other screens.

What is one over-the-counter medication I can use for asthenopia and dryness of the eyes associated with it?

Artificial tears can be used for dry eyes as it lubricates the eyes, preventing any unnecessary friction.

Last medically reviewed on September 9, 2022.