How do I Treat an Eye Strain Headache?

Allison Boelcke

Eye strain is a condition that occurs when the eyes have been used for a long period of time. It often occurs after an extended time spent focusing the eyes, such as when reading or using a computer, which can cause the eyes to become tired or uncomfortable. Overly bright or dim light may also contribute to the conditions. Eye strain can cause a variety of symptoms, but one of the most common among individuals is a light headache concentrated in the temples.

Watching too much television may cause eye strain.
Watching too much television may cause eye strain.

Treatment for an eye strain headache may not always be required, particularly since these type of headaches do not tend to be pounding or especially painful or distracting. For some people, simply resting their eyes by closing them for a short period of time may make the headache subside quickly. Making sure to take regular breaks and changing the position of the eyes may also help the headache go away without the need for additional treatment.

Spending less time looking at a computer screen can reduce eye strain headaches.
Spending less time looking at a computer screen can reduce eye strain headaches.

If an eye strain headache does not go away on their own after taking a break from the activity, it may be relieved with a massage. Firmly massaging the temples in a circular motion with the fingertips may take away some of the pressure. Keeping the eyes closed during the massage may make it more effective by also giving the eyes an additional rest from the strain.

Taking regular breaks might help alleviate an eye strain headache.
Taking regular breaks might help alleviate an eye strain headache.

Lighting tends to be one of the key culprits that may cause an eye strain headache. Treating these headaches may be accomplished by changing the lighting in which one is reading or otherwise using his or her eyes. Dim light may contribute to eye strain while one is reading or performing tasks, so switching to an area with brighter light may make headaches go away in a brief period of time. For eye strain brought on by extended use of a computer, adjusting the computer’s brightness and contrast settings may be effective at treating headache.

Eye strain may be relieved with a massage.
Eye strain may be relieved with a massage.

Even without treatment, an eye strain headache tends to be more of a nuisance than a serious health risk. Treatment with the use of medications is usually not necessary because changing the visual circumstances is often enough to quickly make the headache go away, as opposed to headaches brought on my underlying medical conditions. If eye strain and accompanying headaches occur frequently and do not subside quickly by reducing visual activity, it may be a sign that eye strain is not what is actually the cause of the headaches and further medical attention may be needed.

Keeping the eyes closed may help relieve eye strain.
Keeping the eyes closed may help relieve eye strain.

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Discussion Comments


Finally gone for good! I had suffered from severe eye headaches for many years almost on daily basis, until a friend got me to try the Lucia No3 light device. A 20 minute session cured it for good. I can now drive at night for hours or read on my PC screen all day without a single pill.


When I have really bad eye strain, I get cluster headaches. For me this happens when I try to read in light that is too bright.

If I read outside in the sunlight or an overly bright room for very long, it doesn't take long to notice the symptoms of eye strain. The best thing for me to do is get out of the bright light, and then I am fine.


I like to read in bed at night, but a bright light keeps my husband awake. I used to try to read with a dim light, but after while this caused eye strain because I was focusing so hard to see the words.

I finally bought some reading glasses that have a built-in light on each side of them. The light shines directly on the book and lights up the whole page without bothering anyone else.

This reduced my eye strain and made reading at night much more enjoyable.


I wonder if eye strain headaches are much more common with the increasing use of the computer and electronic devices?

When I see someone massaging their temples, I know they probably have a headache, and many times this is caused from computer eye strain. This is what I find myself doing after I have been staring at the computer screen for too long.

When my eyes start to feel like they are crossing and I feel that dull ache between my eyes, I know it is time for a break. I also try to make it a habit to get up from my desk every hour or so and give my eyes a break.

This isn't always an easy thing to remember to do, but when I do, it helps reduce my eye strain.


I spend all day on the computer and the last thing I want to do when I get home is get on the computer. There are many times by the end of the work day, that I have a tension headache.

It is amazing that by being away from the computer for a few hours, my headache goes away.

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