How Daily Headaches are Linked to Your Eyes; Explaining a New Diagnosis of Trigeminal Dysphoria by Angela L. Washington, OD
More than a Regular Headache
Most people don’t correlate their head and neck symptoms, such as daily headaches and neck/shoulder strain, to their eyes. In fact, most symptomatic people don’t mention this during their routine eye exams. We constantly hear that prolonged near work including reading and use of digital devices add to the aforementioned symptoms, but do we know why? The reason goes beyond needing “clear vision” to see and function well. Researchers have found that chronic headaches and neck/shoulder pain are, in fact, linked to the ocular system and originate in the brain stem (1). This phenomenon occurs through an interaction with the trigeminal nerve that’s located in your head and is referred to as trigeminal dysphoria.
How the Eye and Head are connected
The trigeminal nerve is a major pain passageway to the head and neck. This complex and large nerve is also responsible for the innervation of the eyes, nose and mouth (2). Clinical studies have shown that chronic over stimulation of the trigeminal nerve is caused by misalignment of the extraocular eye muscles (1). This ocular misalignment in the central nervous system interferes with the synchronization of the peripheral and central visual tracking system, which sends signals to the trigeminal nerve (1). The degree of misalignment is much less than what is required to classify a strabismus or noticeably turned eye. However, the misalignment is enough to trigger a signal to be sent to the brain from the trigeminal nerve. The signal that is sent to the trigeminal nerve is responsible for detecting sensation and reporting pain; thus causing discomfort.
The reason you’re able to see one single image even though you have two eyes is because the brain and eyes are continuously communicating to keep your eyes aligned and allow you to interpret the world without having double vision. If misalignment is present, this makes it difficult for the brain to keep things in sync. Without this in sync balance, you will likely experience frequent daily suffering such as headaches and neck/shoulder strain due to the constant demand on your visual system throughout the day.
Based on these studies, it implies that these signals play a role in the over stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, resulting in symptoms like headache, dry eye, dizziness, light sensitivity, neck pain/jaw pain, motion sickness and eyestrain. Prior to this research, these symptoms were not carefully studied and therefore not directly linked to the eyes. However, due to a major increase in the demand for digital device use in today’s world (3), these symptoms have amplified; which warranted more thorough studies and finding the connection between chronic daily headaches and the eyes.
Relief is in Sight
Thankfully, Relief is in sight! The treatment for trigeminal dysophoria is called the Neurolens. Neurolenses are prescription lenses that bring the eyes into alignment with the use of contoured prisms. Up until now, standard prism was used to realign the eyes at a single distance. With the contoured Neurolens design, ocular aligment can now be achieved at distance, intermediate and near on top of correcting the patients’ refractive prescription (2). This patented technology is what makes Neurolenses different from regular glasses and is the only lens design on the market of its kind. The Neurolenses provide true comfort and sets the new standard for your visual experience. Studies show an 80% positive response to treatment with Neurolenses and 70% of wearers reported reducing use of headache medications within 90 days of using Neurolens spectacles (1). No drugs, no injections, no medications; just wonderfully designed lenses are now available to relieve previously unsolved symptoms! Are you ready to treat yours?