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Can dry eyes cause migraines?

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If you have dry eyes, you may indeed be more likely to experience migraines.

Research suggests there not only appears to be a link between dry eye syndrome and migraines, but that dry eye sufferers may experience migraines that last longer and are more severe.

A 2017 study of 34 patients with migraine , especially those with migraine aura, appear more likely to have dry eye.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, further found that people who had more frequent migraines had a higher salt content in their tears. More salt in tears can lead to further drying.

Another 2017 study of nearly a million U.S. veterans  found that dry eyes were more common in veterans living with chronic pain conditions, such as dry eyes.

A 2015 study of 58 patients  found that migraines lasted longer in people with dry eyes. Furthermore, the researchers found that migraine sufferers with dry eye had been experiencing migraines for longer than those without dry eyes.

A 2012 study of 33 patients with migraine and 33 control patients without migraine or headache found patients with migraine had significantly more clinical signs of dry eye than individuals in the control group.

The researchers concluded that at least some migraine attacks may be aggravated by the presence of dry eye syndrome.

Given the relatively small sample sizes of most of these studies, additional research is needed to provide a better understanding of the connection between dry eyes and migraine.

A clear connection between migraines and dry eyes could lead to the development of new treatment options to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks among those who suffer from dry eyes.

Page updated August 2019

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