Strabismus and headaches

[From Erin by way of Lois (Admin)]

I’m a 22 year old who has had strabismus since birth. At age one I had surgery to correct it. My right eye has always been a little “lazy”. But lately I’ve been getting bad headaches, and looked in the mirror today and noticed a slight disalignment of my eyes (slight esotropia). I’m not sure this is related, but was wondering if anyone else experienced headaches as their strabismus worsened? I’m trying to figure out if I should go get it checked out.

— Erin

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16 thoughts on “Strabismus and headaches”

  1. I’ve heard lots of people say strabismus caused their headaches to be worse. There is a lot of tension in the eyes with strabismus.

    I have had headaches most of my life, but nothing that couldn’t be controlled by over-the-counter meds like Tylenol or Ibuprofen until my strabismus got really bad in 2004. It was then that I was diagnosed with migraine headaches, not severe, but bad enough it required prescription migraine medicine to relieve. Since I had my strabismus surgery in May of 2005, the headaches are much less frequent, though occasionally I will have them still.

    I definitely think you should have it checked out though, especially if the headaches just started (or worsened) recently. You need to be sure the headaches are not related to something serious. You should also see an eye doctor regarding the worsening of your strabismus. I’d recommend you see a Vision Therapy Optometrist, and possibly a Strabismus Surgeon also. See the left sidebar for links to find these specialists in your area.

  2. I’m 20 and had a surgery in 2003. The results were “ok”, after a year it was hardly
    noticeable. Now I’m not sure but I think it’s getting worse. And I do have bad headaches
    Last eye doctor i saw said the headaches are not usually related to eyes, but I can’t believe him,
    as when I relax my eyes, the headache is gone. For me I think it’s related to stress to,
    when stressed my eyes get worse and plus i have unbearable headache.

    Wish you all the best, personally I’m not gonna give up untill I have 100% normal not crossed
    eyes, with no headaches.

  3. I have had strabismus since birth also when I was a kid I never got headaches but as I have got older I have had more and more real bad headaches got to the point I can get them daily some weeks

    something I have noted at times is a blurred spot in my bad eye that seems to float around my eye then I get a massive migraine

    my optician said it was stress but I don’t believe that

    also has anyone else this condition I have long sightedness also but have been told that my vision will be gone without glasses when I am older I am seeing signs of this already with my vision without glass getting worse as the years go on

  4. I’ve had strabismus (extropia) since birth & experience headaches & migranes as well due to this condition. Over the counter medications do not work to relieve the headaches. The medical establishment has very little understanding of this condition as their focus is on life threatening diseases. Your best bet is to make sure you rest your eyes as often as you can in a dark room. You have to relax the offensive eye muscle to relieve the pain.

  5. I’m 20 years old and I’ve had strabismus problems since birth, which caused me to have a pretty severe lazy eye as a child. I had surgery in 2000, which corrected the problem, to the best of my knowledge, but recently I have noticed my eye muscles getting a little weaker, and my eye has started to drift ever so slightly again. I’ve also started getting killer migraines, to the point that I can’t really eat move or function for a week straight, and they area always centered around that eye. Over the counter pain relievers don’t work for me, and over the counter migraine medication only works slightly. =(

  6. Michael Conroy, the blurred dot you get on your eye is an aura.
    Before you get a migraine the blood vessels in the brain rapidly expand putting pressure on the optical nerve. Then the reverse effect happens and the blood vessels contract causing pain. I usually get my auras in my right eye (the good eye) and about half an hour later i get an intense pain behind my left eye (the lazy one). There are many things that cause migraines such as diet, weather change, chemicals, smells, hormones, allergies, dehydration ect… The only way to find out what specifically causes it is to pay close attention to yourself and to see a nuerologist. I would love to know if my migrines are caused by my strabismus or by something else. But i always feel stressed, absent minded and cranky on the day a migraine begins. No OTC meds help once my migraine hits im going to hell and back for 3 hours.

  7. Hi people,

    I also had squint eyes as a child, no surgery was performed but at the time the doc just gave me some glasses with one good and one bad prescription forcing the bad eye to be used. Now it’s hardly noticeable.

    However just like all of you I have been getting so many headaches lately and it’s hard for me to believe that it’s being caused by the lazier eye cause I hardly use it, thus is, when I focus on something I only use my better eye, but then again that extra focus might be causing the headaches.

    It still puzzles me though cause I am 25 years old and only during the last year has these headaches intensified :S My vision has gotten worse, that’s a fact but the bad eye always had worse vision.

    Mystery :S

  8. Hi everyone,

    I’m 17, and I’ve always struggled with strabismus. I had surgery when I was one, and it corrected the alignment in my left eye. Though I’ve always struggled with vision, my eye only started to go lazy three years ago. It used to drift when I was tired, but lately it’s been happening more frequently despite a good sleep schedule.

    I was also diagnosed with migraines around the same time my eye started going lazy and giving me double vision. I’m not sure if my migraines are caused by the strabismus, if the strabismus is caused by the migraines, or if they both have the same triggers (bright light [especially sunlight], lack of sleep, a handful of smells, and car rides). Sometimes my eye will go lazy without having a migraine and vice versa, so I can’t tell.

    It’d be interesting to know what other people’s triggers are and how strong of a correlation there is between strabismus and migraines.

  9. Savannah, have you seen an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist recently? I’d suggest seeing a COVD specialist (these are Optometrists who are trained in Vision Therapy and Behavioral Optometry. Since your eye is just starting to drift in the past three years, and you are young, you may have a good chance of recovering some or all of your alignment with Vision Therapy. Only a trained specialist can tell you for sure, but I encourage you to look into it. See “find vision therapy dr.” on the right sidebar of this page. While you are there, look at “find eye surgeon” also. You will be taken to a page where you can search for pediatric eye surgeons (Ophthalmologists) from that link. Pediatric strabismus surgeons also do strabismus surgery on adults. They are the most qualified and experienced because they do so many of these surgeries on children. Also I’d like to invite you to join our Eyes Apart Strabismus Support group at Yahoo. You can interact with others there who have had vision therapy as well as surgery. See the purple box at the top of this page.

    As for triggers…as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed some other eye problems unrelated to strabismus that seem to trigger double vision when these eye problems are acting up. Glare, sunlight, and lack of sleep triggers it for me too, and reading or computer work always triggers it. I have had a tendency toward migraines in the past which eye doctors said were related to strabismus. Jaw doctors insisted were related to an old jaw injury causing misalignment. After my strabismus surgeries, the migraines did seem to become less frequent, and after my jaw surgery about 3 years later, migraines have been even less of a problem for me. It’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause of migraines. I wish you the best!

  10. I have suffered from dizziness and chronic migraine for 35 years, andd been to countless doctors. I have alternating exotrophia. I just saw a highly recommended specialist in NYC, who told me that my eyes were not working together, which was causing these problems. I have been referred for eye exercises. Let me know if anyone wants to know the docs name

  11. Thanks for your post, Karen. The best doctors for treating exotropia or other forms of strabismus with exercises are Developmental Optometrists, also known as Behavorial Optometrists. You can find a Developmental Optometrist in your area by following the “Find vision therapy dr.” link in the sidebar of this site, or by visiting Hope this helps, Lois

  12. Looking for long periods of time in front of screen aggravates the condition. This is what my doc told me. Computer screes, smartphones. Take breaks and cup the eyes with your palm when you can’t get total darkness.

  13. I am 23 years old I had suffered strabismus from birth I have never seen a doctor for my condition, I don’t have no signs of headaches or migraines as yet am here reading as am trying to learn about the long term challenges that are ahead in regards to my strabismus my mom is convinced that I will grow it out, I don’t think so though I always thought of surgery but am afraid it will make it worse or cause other problems in regard to my eyes… I only started wearing glasses about 2-3 years ago.. but am worried and have a lot of concerns, hoping my strabismus can be corrected without surgery

  14. Gabriella, I’d like to invite you to join our Eyes Apart strabismus support group at Yahoo. Share your story and you will find others there with strabismus who will reach out to you.

  15. Hey. 22 Male here. Had 20/20 vision until about 13yo got a prescription. Never wire them. Or thought about it until literally 2 years ago,working in retail looking at screens I began getting crossed vision and horrible tension behind my left eye and throbbing pains/headaches very associated w this left eye.
    This continued and progressed into frequent occurrences including looking at my droid to write this (left eye throbbing crossed and squinted closed Right eye trying to balance the tension. I now notice too when. I look only thru my left eye everything is a severe degree of blur. Like a out of focus picture. My right eyes vision is perfect. So I’m sitting here now trying to find ways to fix this even by means of removal of said ‘lazy’ eye. Can’t hang w these headaches.

    My causes:
    Long days, esp. When focusing on things up close
    Extended time looking at any screens.
    Making my lazy eye do anymore work than necessary, I.e. it crosses inward Ever so slightly so easiest on my vision is looking at something not direct but looking w both eyes towards my right so my vision lines up

    I notice because of slight difference in pupil direction my Depth perception is really off and that’s stresses my eyes out and my right eye tires from trying to compensate for my Left eye.
    Bright lights suck but adequate lighting is a must. Screens in the dark are bad and reading or focusing on anything in dim light hurts.

    Hope this helps. Good luck all

  16. Vincent O, if you are seeking help I recommend you see a strabismus surgeon (usually a Peditric Ophthalmologist) or a Developmental Optometrist. The surgeon can talk with you about surgery to correct your strabismus or a Developmental Optometrist can offer vision therapy which may relieve some of the discomfort and possibly improve your vision and help your eyes be in better alignment again. You can look both of these typse of doctors up by following the appropriate links in the sidebar.

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