Headaches can frequently develop behind the left eye or both of the eyes. These headaches typically include shooting pains that start behind the eye and move throughout the head. Sometimes these are referred to as "cluster headaches" because they occur in clusters or cycles throughout the day. A variety of causes can contribute to headaches developing behind the eyes, and they may be accompanied by several different symptoms.
Migraine- Migraine headaches often begin behind the eyes. If you suffer from ophthalmoplegic migraines, they can cause pain behind the eyes for days or months at a time, which can be coupled by partial or complete loss of vision. Migraines are usually coupled with sensitivity to light and sound, numbness, confusion, nausea or vomiting.
Dry eyes- When the eyes become extremely dry, it can cause a shooting pain to develop behind the affected eye. Those who suffer from chronic dry eyes are especially prone to developing headaches. Sitting too close to the television or staring at a computer screen for several hours each day may also increase your risk of developing headaches from dry eyes.
Sinusitis- A severe sinus infection can put pressure on the eyes, causing throbbing pain to develop. Sinus infections will be accompanied by a runny nose or stuffiness. You may also develop a slight fever if the infection is severe. Those suffering from a sinus infection that is putting pressure on the eyes may also cause the patient to become sensitive to the light.
Long Sightedness- This condition may also be known as hyperopia, and is caused when an object is focused behind the retina instead of on it. This causes the person to strain the eyes as they attempt to see the object properly. Long sightedness will also weaken the eye muscles over time, which increases your risk of developing headaches.
Astigmatism- People who have astigmatism, or an irregular retina shape, can be more susceptible to headache behind eyes. This is often caused by the person squinting or straining to view objects that cannot easily be seen from a certain angle.
Orbital inflammatory syndrome- The cause of orbital inflammatory syndrome is unknown, and the disease can only be identified with a CT scan. The muscles around the eyes will be inflamed, putting pressure on the eyes and the brain cavity, which can lead to painful headaches. Symptoms of this disorder are typically more severe behind the left eye.
Scleritis- This disorder commonly accompanies gout or rheumatoid arthritis. Scleritis causes the eyes to become inflamed and red, which can cause reoccurring bouts of pain. The eyes will become quite red when the patient is suffering from this disorder.
Optic neuritis- Optic neuritis can spread to the muscles around the eyes, which can lead to severe headaches. This is a reoccurring condition that can also cause the patient to experience misconceptions or blurred vision because the eyes cannot move properly.
Cranial nerve palsies- Cranial nerve palsies are caused by the blood supply to the nerves in the eye becoming erratic, often due to conditions such as diabetes that harms the circulatory system. This condition will cause extreme pain in the eyes which may also become a headache over time. You may experience double vision as cranial nerve palsies begin to take hold.
Eye exercises. Tension headaches can be relieved with manual therapy. Lie on your back on a hard surface. Use your thumbs to find the base of the skull, then gently lean back onto your thumb, pressing into base of the skull. Apply pressure and hold this position for as long as you can without increasing your discomfort. Breathe deeply during this exercise to promote increased circulation. If the headache is behind one eye but not the other, use your thumb to trace the side of the skull where the pain is manifested.
Therapeutic treatments can also be used to help those with chronic headaches behind eyes. Acupuncture or massage therapy are commonly prescribed to those suffering from cluster headaches. Those with frequent sinus issues that contribute to their headaches may also benefit from regular steam inhalation to break up the mucus collecting in the sinuses. If the headaches frequently appear behind one eye in particular, your doctor may teach you a series of eye exercises that can help build the muscles in this area.
Over the counter medication can be used to lessen a headache behind eyes. Take an anti-inflammatory to relax the tissue and swelling in the muscles behind the eye that may be causing your discomfort. If you are suffering from sinus discomfort, take a decongestant to help relieve the pressure that is contributing to your headache. If you suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure, consult your doctor before taking any over the counter medications to ensure that you are taking medication that will not agitate your condition. Those who suffer from chronic headaches may also need to consult a doctor regarding prescription medication to help ward off their discomfort more effectively.
Certain substances should be avoided when you are dealing with a severe headache. Talk to your doctor about reducing oral contraceptives to help alleviate your pain. Avoid eating foods that are high in nitrates. These include processed or frozen foods. You may also need to avoid foods with high sodium content as this can raise your blood pressure, contributing to the tension. Tobacco and alcohol products can also disrupt your circulation, which can make your headache worse.