Many people suffer from both migraines and vision problems, but is there a connection between the two?
Can astigmatism actually trigger migraines? Let’s take a closer look.
Can astigmatism cause migraines?
Astigmatism can bring on headaches for those who tend to be triggered by visual stimuli, because the eye is straining to focus. Due to the complex nature of migraines, astigmatism could be a causative factor for ocular migraines due to the involved neural pathways in the brain.
This study reports that according to the current knowledge, it is not possible to indicate the main linking pathway.
But just like the links between migraine and TMJ, more research will hopefully illuminate these common dual issues.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that causes blurred vision. It occurs when the cornea — the clear, round front surface of your eye — isn’t evenly curved or when the eye itself isn’t perfectly shaped.
This blurry vision can make it difficult to see fine details clearly.
If you suffer from migraines, talk to your doctor about your astigmatism, and read about infusions for migraine, which are an interesting new therapy.
- There are two types of astigmatism: regular (or “simple”) astigmatism and irregular (or “complex”) astigmatism. Regular astigmatism is very common and usually happens when your eyeball is slightly oval-shaped.
- Irregular astigmatism is much less common and usually occurs after an injury to your eye, cataract surgery, or other type of eye surgery.
- Though both types can cause blurred vision, irregular astigmatism can also cause double vision. Double vision happens because light rays aren’t focusing on one spot in your retina — the back part of your eye where images focus.
- Instead, they focus on two different spots, causing you to see two images instead of one.
How long does astigmatism headache last?
The head and eye pain of astigmatism headache has been reported to last from 1 day, to up to a week in some cases, or even constantly if the correct prescribed eye glasses are not being worn.
So, it’s clear that people with migraines and astigmatism should have ophthalmological examinations regularly to ensure that their refractive errors are appropriately corrected. 
At the eye doctor
During routine eye exam at your eye doctor, your optic nerve will be examined with special tests. They will also want to rule out if the underlying cause of your headaches are actually a more serious condition, such as
- brain tumor
- temporal arteritis – a dangerous condition of the blood vessels in the head
- idiopathic intracranial hypertension – a rare high blood pressure issue
- giant cell arteritis
- cluster headaches
People with astigmatism should be aware of the impact on their eye muscles. If you have the wrong eye glasses prescription, you can be more likely to get a bad headache.
What are Migraines?
Migraines are a type of severe headache that can cause pain, visual disturbances like flashes of light, and even nausea. For some people, migraines are preceded by an “aura.”
An aura involves changes in your vision that usually happen about 15 to 30 minutes before the pain begins.
These changes can include flickering spots, wavy lines, or blindness in one eye. Some people experience an aura without ever having a headache.
The astigmatism-migraine connection
There’s no definitive answer, but there is some evidence to suggest that there may be a connection between the two conditions.
One study found that migraine sufferers were more likely to have irregular astigmatism than those who don’t get migraines. 
Another study found that nearly half of all migraine sufferers have some type of refractive error, which includes both nearsightedness and farsightedness as well as astigmatism.
A meta-analysis of several studies on the subject found that people with migraines were 1.5 times more likely to have myopia (nearsightedness) and 2 times more likely to have hyperopia (farsightedness) than those who don’t get migraines.
The study also found that those with migraines were 1.67 times more likely to have astigmatism than those who don’t get migraines.
While more research needs to be done to determine whether there is a causal relationship between astigmatism and migraines, the evidence does suggest that there may be a connection between the two conditions.
Do you have astigmatism and migraines? Tell us below about what triggers you’ve found, including any relief tips for other sufferers.
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- Gunes, Alime, et al. “Refractive errors in patients with migraine headache.” Seminars in Ophthalmology. Vol. 31. No. 5. Taylor & Francis, 2016.
- Harle, Deacon E., and Bruce JW Evans. “The correlation between migraine headache and refractive errors.” Optometry and vision science 83.2 (2006): 82-87.
- Zieliński, Grzegorz, et al. “The Organ of Vision and the Stomatognathic System—Review of Association Studies and Evidence-Based Discussion.” Brain Sciences 12.1 (2021): 14.