Waking Up With Eye Pain & A Headache? 8 Causes & 10 Ways To Stop It!

Sleeping Problem. Overhead above top view of stressed African American guy lying alone in bed touching grabbing head feeling depressed, suffering from insomnia or mental problems after breakup

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by theworldofsleepstaff

Waking up with eye pain and a headache is no fun experience. It can be uncomfortable, frightening, and even debilitating if it persists for too long.

Eye pain and headaches can feel differently for each person. Generally, people experience it as a sharp, burning sensation behind their eyes. This may be accompanied by pressure or fullness in the head, neck, and face. Additionally, some people may have blurred vision or light sensitivity when they wake up with these symptoms.

Luckily, treatments are available to help reduce the discomfort of these symptoms. This article will explore the causes of eye pain and headaches and how to treat them, all so you can sleep better and wake up refreshed.

Note: This content was only written as a reference, using third-party background information. It is not medical advice; as always, it is essential to research and speak with a healthcare provider if you have any questions or before taking any new supplement.


  1. How Do You Know If It’s A Headache Or Eye Strain?
  2. When Should I Be Concerned About Eye Pain & Headaches?
  3. Waking Up With Eye Pain And A Headache: 8 Causes
  4. 10 Potential Treatments For Eye Pain & a Headache
man in bed suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking about his problem at night

How Do You Know If It’s A Headache Or Eye Strain?

Headaches and eye strain can have similar symptoms, so it’s essential to understand the difference between them.

Headaches generally involve a dull throbbing sensation around your head, while eye strain is typically more localized behind the eyes.

On top of that, headaches are also usually accompanied by other symptoms like nausea or sensitivity to light, whereas eye strain often only affects vision.

An adult man covers his face struggling to wake up in the early morning after sleep while he sits in bed.
iStock.com/Meeko Media

When Should I Be Concerned About Eye Pain & Headaches?

If you experience eye pain and headache that lasts longer than a few hours, or if the intensity of the symptoms increases, it is essential to seek medical attention.

Other potential signs of concern include redness, discharge from the eyes, light sensitivity, difficulty focusing, nausea or vomiting and vision changes.

It is also essential to seek medical attention if the pain is accompanied by high fever, severe neck stiffness, or confusion.

In some instances, eye pain and a headache may signify more serious underlying medical conditions such as meningitis, optic neuritis or stroke.

Shot of a woman doctor having a consultation with a patient

Waking Up With Eye Pain And A Headache: 8 Causes

There are many potential causes for waking up with eye pain and a headache. For example, it could be due to an underlying medical condition such as glaucoma or migraine headaches.

However here are the most common ones:

1. Eye Strain

This is often caused by prolonged exposure to bright screens, like those found on computers, phones and other devices. It can also be caused by reading or writing for too long in poor lighting conditions.

Health experts also say the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses can cause that eye strain. So consider changing your eyeglass prescription if you experience eye pain and headaches after a few hours of work.

Girl lying in bed uses a cell phone and yawns. She is tired or insomnia or addicted to the phone

2. Migraine

Migraines are one of the most common causes of eye pain and headaches. They usually last from four to 72 hours and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

When you wake up with a migraine, you may feel a throbbing pain behind your eyes. Other common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and vision changes.

3. Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches can be caused by inflamed sinuses and cavities filled with air in front of the skull. When these become blocked or infected, it causes pain in the forehead and around the eyes.

The pain can be intense, accompanied by a runny nose, postnasal drip and pressure behind your eyes.

The only problem with this type of headache is that the symptoms mimic those of a migraine. To differentiate between the two, look for other signs like nasal congestion and facial tenderness.

Woman with headache

4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition caused by increased pressure in the eyeball, which can cause pain behind your eyes.

Headache and vision changes, such as halos around lights and blurred vision, can also be associated with glaucoma. Therefore, getting immediate medical attention is essential if you experience any of these symptoms.

Recent studies suggest that glaucoma may be linked to obesity. So, keeping a healthy body weight can help reduce your risk of developing this condition.

5. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by bacterial infection or allergies. Symptoms like itching, burning, redness and flaking usually accompany it.

While blepharitis doesn’t usually cause eye pain and headaches, the inflammation can make it more challenging to open your eyes in the morning and lead to other severe issues, such as corneal ulcers or decreased vision.

6. Computer Vision Syndrome

This condition is caused by prolonged use of computers, phones and other digital devices. It can cause eye pain, headaches, dry eyes and blurred vision.

To reduce the risk of computer vision syndrome, make sure to take regular breaks when using digital devices. You should also adjust your workstation’s lighting and seating if needed.

Young Businesswoman Suffering From Neckache

7. Refractive Error

This is an eye condition caused by a difference between the shape of your eyeball and the shape of your cornea, which can cause light to focus incorrectly on the retina. This can lead to blurred vision, eye strain and headaches.

The most common types of refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. These can be treated with eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions.

8. Eye Infection

Eye infections are caused by viral or bacterial pathogens and can lead to eye pain, redness, itching and headaches. Common causes of eye infections include viruses, bacteria and allergies.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must contact your doctor immediately, as some eye infections can cause severe damage if left untreated. Treatment for eye infections usually involves antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication.

In conclusion, there are many causes of eye pain and headaches, ranging from migraines to glaucoma to computer vision syndrome. Therefore, you must speak with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms so they can diagnose the cause and provide appropriate treatment. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as taking frequent breaks from digital devices and adjusting your workstation’s lighting can help reduce the risk of developing certain conditions.


10 Potential Treatments For Eye Pain & a Headache

1. Get Plenty Of Rest

Make sure to get enough sleep, as not getting enough can make your symptoms worse.

You may not think rest is essential for eye pain and headaches, but it is. Getting enough rest helps your body repair itself and can help alleviate symptoms.

A young brunette woman sleeping in white bed,

2. Ice Packs

Ice can help reduce swelling in your eyes or head, relieving any discomfort you may be feeling. Place an ice pack on your forehead or eyelids for 15 minutes.

3. Massage

Gentle massage on your temples can help relax tense muscles and reduce pressure, decreasing pain.

Consider investing in a handheld massager designed explicitly for headaches, or ask your doctor about other massage techniques that may be helpful.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used to treat various ailments, including headaches and eye pain. An acupuncture practitioner can insert tiny needles into specific areas of your body to reduce tension and alleviate symptoms.

Acupuncturist inserting a needle into a female back. patient having traditional Chinese treatment using needles to restore an energy flow through specific points on the skin.

5. Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce the discomfort caused by headaches and eye pain.

6. Hot Compresses

Applying a warm cloth to your forehead or eyes can help relax tense muscles, reduce inflammation and soothe any discomfort caused by headaches or eye pain.

7. Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies such as chamomile or ginger tea may be beneficial for reducing headaches, eye pain, and tension. Speak to a healthcare practitioner about which herbal remedies would be best for you.

Cup of tea with ginger root on grey wooden table

8. Eye Drops

If your eye pain is due to dryness or irritation, lubricating eye drops can help. In addition, artificial tears or anti-inflammatory eye drops can help reduce the discomfort caused by dryness or irritation.

9. Nutrition

Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health, including eye and head health. In addition, eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and improve your vision.

10. Avoid Bright Lights

Try to limit your exposure to bright lights, especially at night. Bright light can cause eye strain and exacerbate headaches and pain in the eyes. Instead, wear sunglasses on sunny days or install light-blocking curtains for your bedroom.

Sleeping Problem. Overhead above top view of stressed African American guy lying alone in bed touching grabbing head feeling depressed, suffering from insomnia or mental problems after breakup

Waking Up With Eye Pain & A Headache: Our Final Thoughts

You must speak with your doctor about possible treatments if you are experiencing persistent head or eye pain. It’s best to find out the cause of your discomfort to get the appropriate treatment. Treating underlying causes such as allergies, infections, and poor vision is vital for relieving symptoms in the long term.

With the correct diagnosis and proper care, eye pain and headaches can be managed and reduced over time. Taking steps to address the root cause of your pain is essential for restoring full vision and relief from discomfort.

If you or someone you know is experiencing eye pain or headaches, speak to a medical professional about the options available. Don’t let these symptoms go unresolved! With proper care, you can find relief.