It seems that dry eyes are somehow related to headaches. In one way this is not surprising because excessive computer vision, as an example is related to both dry eyes and headaches. In medical terms there are many things that can be associated but one does not cause the other. A good example of this might be obesity and Vitamin D deficiency.
A main cause of obesity would be a lack of exercise and poor diet, whereas Vitamin D deficiency is mainly caused by lack of exposure to sunlight. Obesity and Vitamin D deficiency are associated possibly because when one is obese you are less likely to want to go outdoors as much, which in turns causes Vitamin D deficiency. Therefore one problem does not cause the other.
Recently we came across an interesting paper written by Dr Jacqueline Muller in Advanced Ocular Care August 2010. Her hypothesis was that dry eyes might be directly a cause of headaches, rather than just associated with each other.
She conducted a study that involved over 200 patients that she was treating, who had concurrent headaches and dry eyes. In this study she aggressively treated this group with Restasis eye drops, Omega 3 supplements, steroid eye drops, 6 glasses of water a day, preservative free eye drops every hour or so, sunglasses when outdoors, humidifiers wherever they could have one, especially near their computer and when sleeping, lid hygiene, lid massage plus extra treatment if they had any blepharitis.
This treatment is what is called “throwing the kitchen sink” at the problem. One needs to remember that to have the motivation to go through such a treatment protocol the problem must be perceived as huge.
The anecdotal results of this study showed that more than 90% of these patients improved with the objective observations of the Dr, they felt better and low and behold their headaches had disappeared!
There are many possible reasons that treating dry eyes so aggressively could also relieve headaches. Rather than hypothesizing about this what makes better sense is for patients and practitioners to understand that there is a distinct possibility that if a patient has dry eyes, questioning about headaches is imperative.
Over the years as we have accumulated experience in dry eye management I continue to be amazed that something like dry eyes, which is perceived as being totally benign and most of the time we can just ignore, is really a huge and dramatic problem. A short look at the many chatlines that exist about dry eye problems reveal a huge number of people that are just not being treated properly.
If you are having dry eye symptoms do not ignore them. Treat the problem, as more and more people seem to be bordering on being debilitated from this condition and its associated issues.