Can kids get headaches from eye problems?

New York Times News Service /

Published Nov 23, 2012 at 04:00AM

When a child complains of frequent headaches, many pediatricians order an eye exam.

“In some pediatric ophthalmology practices, it’s a daily occurrence,” said Dr. Zachary Roth, a resident at Albany Medical Center in New York.

Often, a child may experience headaches while reading or doing schoolwork, leading parents to think the child needs glasses. But are eye problems really a cause of childhood headaches?

In a recent study, Roth and his colleagues examined 158 children under age 18 who were referred to ophthalmologists for frequent headaches. Then, they evaluated the children’s medical records and looked at the results of earlier vision exams.

Ultimately, the researchers could not find any significant link between headaches and diagnoses of vision problems. In three-quarters of the subjects, the headaches went away over time, both in those who received new glasses and those who did not.