Using My Eyes is Triggering Migraines

Reading, working on the computer and watching TV have become major migraine triggers for me. I’ve suspected a connection for a while, but had a revelation after not blogging for three months: One reason I feel better on vacation is that I rarely read or use the computer when I’m away from home.

I tried to read a book on Sunday. My head hurt within 10 minutes. I had a full blown within 30 minutes. The migraine finally broke while I slept last night. Then I had to get on the computer this morning and it came right back. I am so frustrated and upset.

Finding a clear trigger implies a problem that can be fixed. I know my eyes have deteriorated since my last exam, so adjusting my prescription might be the solution. I have an eye exam tomorrow and hope we can make some progress. Without reading or using the computer, I have no idea what to do with my life.

34 thoughts on “Using My Eyes is Triggering Migraines”

  1. Hi,
    I have the same problem and have just resigned from my job. I have tried specially designed migraine specs, pizotifen, topirimate, Na Valporate and melotonin. None of these drugs have worked or the specs have worked and I have had enough of the suffering. I had a highly paid career as a project manager running clinical trials, but without your health and happiness, the big bucks are meaningless. Sorry this blog doesn’t end on a cheery note, but sometimes life isn’t easy.

  2. PLEASE let me know what are those glasses that Karin uses (specially tinted glasses (a rainbow of colors for people)

    I have the same problem that one of my eye gets a huge pain due to the sunlight, floresent light, TV, computer. My life has stopped because of this. I am a professional and can not do my carrier sucessfully, even can not drive my car !

    Ano food or any other cause trigger this except light.

    Thanks a lot

    1. Sachini,

      Years after I wrote that post, my neurologist told me about a special tint that reduces the pain caused by light. I couldn’t find glasses that I liked with the tint, so my husband used his product management skills to get some made for me. They work so well that he and I started TheraSpecs, a company that sells lightweight, protective frames with this special tint. I wear them all the time and find them to be a tremendous relief. You can learn about them at


  3. Coud be the Irlen Syndrome. Found out I have this 3 years ago, but Dr. says probably my whole life. Sunlight and florescent lights are triggers. Now I have specially tinted glasses (a rainbow of colors for people). It’s gotten better.

  4. Kerrie, I have the exact same problem, I get throbbing when
    reading on paper, watching tv or computer screen or reading on the computer. Even in moderation this builds up over the week and it gets to a boiling point where even a glance at a word,tv or monitor would trigger a migraine attack. Nothing else from sleep, food to light does anything to effect it and when im on holiday it totally goes away as I dont engage in these activities. My case is even weirder as I get intestinal discomfort(farting) when doing these activities and also my immune system is being effected in particular the glands
    round my neck get sore and if I go heavy on reading, using
    the computer for a few days I often get a full blown infection
    which leaves me ill for a week. My neurologist was perplexed that my triggers where so specific and that I get run down cos of it giving me an infection. So bear in mind there are weirder cases than yours!! Im nt sure if its visual, thyroid, auto immune disorder or sinitus or whether the migraine damages the immune system. To me it feels as though these activities exhaust me so much that my immune system suffers as a result. Please let me know what u guys think???

  5. I have to use speech-recognition software at work as a medical transcriptionist, editing the dictation/reports. I suspect it is a trigger or cumulative trigger for my migraines, as they often get worse while using this software – it has 2 cursors, a red “text box” showing where the “voice” is, and the regular Microsoft cursor (text). Does anyone have any ideas on this?

  6. Omg! I’ve been suffering with the same problem since my sophomore year in high school. This problem has debilitated me from attending college. I need help!

  7. i’m a 16 year old and i have alot of different triggers for my migraines.. i get about 3-4 a week.. my doctor has me on amitriptyline and propranolol and since he has perscribed me the propranolol, my eyes have been more sensitive to reading and watching screens.. Is that normal?

  8. is there anything designed for seizure patients with the computer – a film you can put on the screen or something along those lines? The Neurologist I am working with said the general theory is that migraines and seizures actually work quite similarly with how the mind works??? I would think something has been designed, but don’t know. My sister is dyslexic, and I know you can get a yellow filter/piece of transparent plastic you can put on the screen to help there…

  9. Have you heard of Melanin Lens computer glasses? Melanin is found naturally in our skin to protect it agains UV light and sun. Scientists found away to put it in the lens itself. It’s not a coating. I can’t even tell you what a relief my glasses are when i work at the computer. Mine are non-prescription, but you can get them in standard reading strengths, too. Good luck to you!

  10. I have been suffering from chronic eye pain associated with computer use for about 14 years since highschool. The problem progressed to include other light related activities like going to the movies, reading, being in brightly lit rooms, or going outside. It’s affected a lot of my life, but I’ve managed to push through this sometimes debilitating problem. I developed pain mainly in my eyes, and my eyes had a tendency to curve inwards. Over the last 14 years I’ve seen dozens of eye specialist for my problem, seen vision therapist, even had botox injected in my eye muscle to try to realign the eye.

    Finally after years of searching for a solution I saw a neurologist who was confident of a diagnosis; migraine. Anyway, to make a long story shorter, between the use of Depakote and Propranolol I have managed to start functioning again, keep my job, and start living life. These drugs have helped to calm down my nervous system enough so I can manage my exposure and symptoms. I hope this helps somebody. The has been a long struggle. Please email if you have questions:

  11. Hi Kerrie
    I actually have the same problem as you do. Computer screen and fluorescent light give me headache/migraine. I have tried Sunglass (Polarized and 100% Uv protected) reading glasses and I still feel pain when I looking at a computer screen. Also, I have a 21,6″ LCD screen and a Keyboard and the best pillow on the market for neck problem. I also had my eyes exam and nothing is wrong. I have almost tried everything.

    These headaches started after a concussion 3 years ago. Since, I had CT scan and everything is fine. Also, I have no problem with my head when I workout at the gym. So, I am concussion free but still have headache.

    I study in administration and last year I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do master degree because of my problem.

    Then, I have consulted a physiotherapist who can do manual therapy.

    After a couple of treatment to my neck (bottom of the skull- it is where the eyes nerves are) I have started to feel better. My light sensitivity was significantly reduced.

    I have been to the physio 30 times in the last year. It helps me a lot and I was able to succeed my degree.

    Now, I know how I can significantly reduce the pain with physio treatment but headaches/migraines keep coming back. So,I am desperately looking to find the cause of the problem.

    I suggest you to have your neck check by a good physio. It might help you.

    In the meantime, if you find or have found an other solution can you please let me know

    Thank you


    NB I’m French Canadian, so this text might have some spelling mistake. I apologies for that

  12. Eye-strain migraines were always a trigger for me that it was time to have my eyes checked, often the changed detected were absolutely tiny, but they were there.

    I’ve since had my eyes lasered – no eye strain headaches and perfect vision. Would highly recommend it!

    And if you’re just not happy to do that there is something that would be worthwhile – when you first go in for laser vision consultation they check your eyes with lasers to build up a proper map of what’s going on. It struck me that this is so much more precise than some guy waving bits of glass in front of me and saying “first” or “second”, I was never comfortable that I’d gotten it right. I’d recommend getting the laser consultation reading done to prescribe the right glasses for you.

  13. Hey there, I don’t know if you wear contact lenses or glasses, but I just stopped by my optometrist and they gave me a sample pair of glasses that reduce the strenght of my contact lenses by 1. Bause I am near sited they suggested that my eyes may be having “spasms” when looking close at the computer and then far away to adjust. I am trying them out but thought to pass this info along.

    Good luck.

  14. Hi Kerrie – What a drag! I do hope a new prescription makes a big difference. I don’t remember your age, but could you be getting into reading glasses range? I have what are called progressive bifocals with reading prescription at the bottom, mid-range (computer screen) prescrip in the middle and distance prescrip at the top. They took about a day of adjustment to know where to focus, but after that eliminated a lot of my eye-strain triggered migraines. Good luck!
    – Megan

  15. Ever since I had the VP shunt inserted, reading and computers caused me excess head pain. When the shunt was removed, the causes of excess pain were not. I’ve found that if I sit at my desk to read or work computers I have much less pain than when sitting on my sofa/chair/in bed.

  16. Hi Kerrie, so sorry to hear about this conclusion, but I am not surprised. Though I don’t have migraine like you, I do find that my chronic tension-type h/a’s are worsened by computer use, some days. If I am already feeling headachey and use the computer too much, it brings on really bad head pain and neck tension. definitely hard to work for a living with this, but luckily it is only some days, when I am already feeling raw and tired.

    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. My thoughts are with you. My father has a chronic degenerative disease and I was home for 3 weeks in August to be with him at the nursing home as he had been going downhill also. This is not easy, and I can’t imagine your loss.
    Thinking of you, Terri xo

  17. I’ve noticed that my eyes don’t ache so much anymore since I went on the ketogenic diet. The moment I try to introduce some carbs or sugar – the aches return. Zinc in my multies helps as well.

  18. The last 2 years I’ve had big concentration problems while reading, watching TV and working with the computer. Taking Q10 the last 3 months has reduced this problem.

  19. don’t forget that when you read and on the computer, you might have a protracted cervical spine (read bad posture)… have you seen a good manual therapist?

  20. How about functions used by blind people? Dragon Naturally Speaking takes dictation (a quadraplegic client of mine uses it, though he finds it tedious). Windows has a speech synthesizer and magnifiers that might help with the reading. Or a maybe bigger screen. . .

  21. I think the flourescent lights at work and working on the computer all day are a trigger for me, too. While I was on vacation, I had a loss less pain. Then back to work, the cycle started right back up!

  22. Have you tried changing the height and tilt of your monitor so that you’re not looking up or down? You could try adjusting your chair height also. You probably already do this, but be aware of your posture while at the keyboard. Hunching over, clenching your jaw, and having your shoulders work their way up to your ears as you type will make trouble for you. I tend to become engrossed in writing or reading on the computer and forget to take stretching breaks until it’s too late. Another factor is wanting to finish my work, and disregarding the physical cost. When you see the eye doctor, ask if you need bifocals or trifocals. I had a lot of migraines when I started to need bifocals a couple years ago. Trigger points just under the brow bones could cause eye pain 10 minutes into reading or using the computer. You can treat them yourself or have a massage therapist do it (painful, but well worth the relief). The eye trigger points definitely make a migraine much worse.

  23. I always wondered how you could read so much while having a headache. I can never read, watch tv or use the computer in the midst of a headache.

    You might want to consider computer glasses also. I resisted for many years because of the cost and hassle, but it has really made an improvement. I have one set of glasses that is perfect for computer work and is tailored to the distance away from the screen that I use.

    I hope you find something that helps!

  24. I’ve noticed the same thing, although using the computer is more likely to do it to me than reading. I got my glasses changed, got one of those $100 computer screen filters, and nothing made any difference. I finally decided to just read, use the computer, and deal with headaches. I do indulge myself now and then with a computer fast for a day or two. But we can’t stop living to prevent migraines. I’m hoping this PFO procedure may make a difference–I’m in the ESCAPE migraine trial group. I should get the surgery in October (unless I’m a control). I’ll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, I’m NOT giving up my life.

  25. Depending on how my head is positioned, reading can contribute to triggering a migraine. This is because I have sub-occipital trigger points– stress in the muscles at the base of my skull/top of my neck refers pain to my forehead. I wonder if you might have this trigger point as well. It’s worth looking into. Try reading in such a way that doesn’t involve tilting your chin down, but allows you to just look straight forward and see if that’s more tolerable.

  26. Kerrie,
    Hi this is Liz at migrainecommunity at blogspot.

    I have the same thing with my eyes. I had to get a computer with that ‘smart light’
    It has helped me. But I have learned to take breaks. If I dont I am in a full blown migraine!

    The eye doctor will help, perhaps you can put some type of screan on your computer screan. I think it is how bright it is. I know this sounds strange but sun glasses may even help. Anything bright, or white, anything white will start my aura.

    Just a thought for you.
    Hope it gets better
    Hope you have a pain free day!

  27. maybe trying a glare coating on your lenses or a glare screen on the computer may help. Maybe they can give you a filter to look through in the book so it doesn’t hurt like a coloured filter.

  28. Kerrie, that sucks. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I remember having that very same problem two years ago. It was very painful. In every way. Hope you are well sooon.

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