Can wearing contact lenses cause headaches?
Clean, properly fitted contact lenses should be very comfortable and should not cause headaches.
If you are fitted with contact lenses and you start having headaches shortly thereafter, see your eye doctor immediately to find out if your discomfort is eye-related.
Your eye doctor will be able to tell if your contact lenses are playing a role in your headaches. Possible contact lens-related causes of headaches include:
- Wrong prescription. It doesn't happen often, but if an error was made in your contact lens prescription and you are wearing lenses that are too strong, too weak or otherwise incorrect, this could cause eye strain and headaches. If this is the cause, replacing the lenses with contacts of the correct power should eliminate your headaches.
- Poorly fitting lenses. It's possible your contact lenses may start to dry out after you have been wearing them for several hours. This can cause them to tighten up, causing eye discomfort and possibly headaches. Discuss the onset of your headaches with your eye doctor. Does the pain start early in the day or after you've been wearing your contact lenses for several hours?
- Dry eyes. If you have dry eyes, sometimes this can cause eye discomfort and possibly headaches. Dry eyes can make you more sensitive to light, causing you to squint, and constant squinting can cause a muscle tension headache. Headaches from dry eye discomfort and squinting usually occur later in the day.
- Computer vision syndrome. If you work at a computer several hours a day, you are at risk of developing computer vision syndrome (CVS). Common symptoms of CVS are headaches and eye strain. Though contact lens wear doesn't necessarily increase your risk of computer vision syndrome, your contacts may dry out during computer work, adding to your discomfort. When discussing your headaches with your eye doctor, be sure to mention how often and how long you work at a computer, and whether your headaches occur more frequently during and after computer work.
- Sinus congestion or infection. Things that cause sinus congestion — such as allergies or infection — also can cause headaches. And because your sinuses are located around and behind your eyes, headaches and sinus pain are often incorrectly thought to originate in the eyes.
It's a good idea to see your eye doctor immediately if you start having headaches — especially if your headaches occur shortly after being fitted with contact lenses or changing contact lens brands.
Even if your eye doctor determines your headaches are not caused by your contacts or your eyes, a thorough eye exam is a good way to rule out one potential cause of your head pain.
Also, your eye doctor will be able to refer you to the proper specialist if he or she feels you need additional care.
About the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include nearsightedness, myopia control, and the effects of blue light on the eye.
Page updated August 2017