Pain behind the eyes may be a symptom of different types of headaches and even other health problems. Most commonly people complain to have an extreme one-sided headache especially involving the area around or behind one eye. This is a typical description of cluster headache. Other symptoms associated with cluster headache are eye redness or tearing, smaller pupil on the affected side of the face and stuffy, runny nose.
Cluster headaches are very severe and last from 25 minutes to a couple of hours. They may recur several times a day for up to 8 weeks and than disappear for a few months or even years.
One of the most effective and safest treatments for cluster headaches is oxygen mask that raises levels of oxygen in the blood and as a result relaxes constricted blood vessels. If that does not help injections of sumatriphan and dihydroergotamine may provide relief from the headache behind the eyes.
Over-the-counter painkillers are not a good alternative for relieving pain as headaches often goes away before the pill starts working.
Both cluster headaches and migraines are considered vascular headaches and are linked to abnormal function of brain’s blood vessels due to hormonal chemical change in the brain. Since those two types of headaches are closely linked together, during migraines, headache may start in the area surrounding one or both eyes.
Migraine headache often begins with visual disturbance called “aura” (a person is seeing zigzag lines or flashing lights or have blurred vision). Later migraine is often accompanied with such symptoms as vomiting, fatigue, nausea, sensitivity to lights and loud sounds.
People suffering from cluster or migraine headaches should avoid use of alcohol and tobacco, certain foods, especially the ones containing nitrates (food coloring, processed meats, preservatives), bright and glaring light, stress and certain medications that lead to hormonal changes (oral contraceptives, estrogens).
Sometimes infection of the frontal sinuses can lead to a dull, throbbing pain between or behind the eyes. It tends to get worse in the mornings and is accompanied with frequent tearing, congestion, runny nose, fever and sensitivity to light. Diving in dirty water, airborne allergies, cold or flu may cause sinus headache.
To eliminate pain behind the eyes, you should reduce inflammation and sinus swelling. Inhaling steam and applying heat over affected area combined with Vitamin C and zinc intake will facilitate the mucus drainage and help to boost immune mechanism to reduce sinus headache.
Other factors that can be the main reason for the headaches behind the eyes are eyestrain and glaucoma. Eyestrain occurs if the eyes are forced to focus on a close object (a newspaper, computer screen) for a long period of time, without focusing periodically at distant objects or due to uncorrected vision problems.
Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure within the eyeball that requires immediate medical attention as it may lead to optic nerve damage and loss of sight. Nowadays glaucoma may be treated by prescription drugs or surgery.