Are Your New Glasses Giving You a Headache?

Those cool new specs shouldn’t leave you in pain.

There’s a link between eyestrain and headaches and migraines: For some, eyestrain is a migraine trigger. And a common symptom of eyestrain is a headache. So those supercool new specs you’ve been eyeing (pun intended) should ease the pain, right?

Unfortunately, some people experience a headache after receiving a new prescription.

It’s All About Your Eye Muscles

“Any time you wear glasses or contacts, your prescription changes the demand put on your eye muscles,” says optometrist Eric T. Brooker, O.D., of the Advanced Vision Institute in Las Vegas. The muscles in your eyes are continually adjusting to focus. If they have trouble adjusting to the different demand caused by your new prescription, those muscles can become overworked, creating pain around the eyes and across the forehead and temples.

Check Your Prescription

It’s also possible that your prescription just isn’t correct. “It’s remarkable how many people are walking around with outdated prescriptions,” says Pamela Gallin, M.D., F.A.C.S. Professor of Ophthalmology at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center.


One thing to keep in mind: If you use your glasses other than as prescribed, your eyes will have to pull overtime duty to compensate for blurred images created by the glasses. According to Gallin, one common misuse is wearing reading glasses when on the computer. Reading materials and computer monitors sit at different distances from your eyes, and reading glasses are only meant for in-your-face reading of books, tablets, or menus.

Tips for Prevention

You can talk to your doctor about other ways to prevent eyestrain headaches. Wearing glasses with high-grade anti-reflective lens coatings when you’re on the computer can help minimize strain on your eye muscles. You could also get bifocal lenses or a weaker pair of reading glasses for the computer. When performing close-up tasks such as reading or computer work, try looking up from the material every 15 minutes to focus on an object in the distance, Brooker says. Then, every 60 minutes, stand up and focus on objects in the distance. “By changing your focal point regularly, you prevent your eye muscles from going into spasm,” Gallin explains.

And if you find yourself experiencing headaches after receiving a new prescription, visit your eye care provider.

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