While having an out of date glasses prescription and certain wavelengths or types of light can play a large role in migraines and light sensitivity, another important factor in the way your eyes can contribute to headaches and eye strain is through a small misalignment.
Ideally, when resting, both eyes point strait ahead. However, this is not the case for many people and they have a small misalignment of their eyes. If the misalignment is large you may have an eye that is always turned in or out. An eye that is always turned and is often referred to as a "lazy eye". However, a smaller eye misalignment is not noticeable because it is compensated for by constantly forcing the eyes to turn in or out in order to work together and point strait ahead as they should. This smaller eye misalignment can lead to a condition called trigeminal disphoria which, for various reasons, often goes undiagnosed by optometrists and ophthalmologists.
When the eyes are misaligned, it puts a higher demand on the visual system including the muscles and nerves which control the eye movement by forcing them to constantly work to correct the misalignment. A good analogy is raising your hand. Raising your hand does not take much work, but if you have to do it for long periods of time, that arm is going to get tired, and eventually your shoulder, back and neck may all start to hurt. Our eyes are the similar. They have a natural resting position. This resting position is not always aligned together, and you may have to compensate by turning your eyes in/out or up/down so they are looking in the same direction.
This can lead to overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve – the largest and most complex nerve connected to the brain, and the one responsible for sending sensations to the head, eyes and shoulders – resulting in visually induced Trigeminal Dysphoria. While the source of the strain on the trigeminal nerve may be the eyes, that pain is often referred further back and can present itself as eye strain, headaches, or even neck pain or stiffness.
One of the ways we check for and measure for eye misalignment is using the Neurolens Measurement Device. Using this device, we can precisely measure whether you have eye misalignment and to what degree when looking in the distance and when looking up-close as the misalignment is often different depending on how far or close you are looking. Furthermore, we can often correct for this misalignment using special aligning lenses. Then, if you are a candidate, we may prescribe Neurolenses®. Neurolenses are the first and only prescription lenses that add a contoured prism to bring the eyes into alignment.
Contoured prism has been shown in studies to relieve the headaches, neck/shoulder pain and eyestrain that many people experience especially when using digital devices, reading or doing detailed work.
In a recent study performed in a Neurology clinic with 179 patients that had not responded to any other headache treatment, 54% reported that their headaches were gone or decreased substantially after being prescribed Neurolenses.
This is the Neurolens measurement machine at our office.