Headache After Cataract Surgery and Vision Loss

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headache after cataract surgery

Headaches may be caused by any number of things, from stress to eye strain or fatigue. But if a new headache accompanies vision loss, further examination should take place.

Dr. Digre suggested that physicians examine these patients closely for symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and past headache history in order to help narrow down a diagnosis. She also advised examining visual fields, pupils and fundus examination to narrow the possibility.

Vision Problems

After cataract surgery, your eye may seem like there is something in it; this is normal and will resolve with time. However, if discomfort or the sense that there is something inside persists or an object seems lodged inside it persists, it’s essential that you visit your physician for an assessment; discomfort in and around your eye could indicate serious underlying issues that need medical treatment immediately.

An ophthalmologist will examine your eye, its movement and back, to identify the source of eye pain. They will then prescribe appropriate treatment such as antibiotics in cases involving infection; alternatively glasses or alternative methods of correcting vision correction such as LASIK or PRK may be recommended depending on its cause.

Astigmatism or farsightedness can cause you to squint, leading to tension in the muscles around the eyes and eventually leading to headaches after cataract surgery. Nearsightedness can also contribute to headaches as your eye strains to focus on nearby objects.

Unusual pain or symptoms after cataract surgery could be the result of persistent postsurgical pain (PPP). Researchers have discovered that postoperative pain and postprocedure pain (PPP) occurs in 34% of individuals six months post cataract surgery, comparable to frequencies seen after laser refractive surgery, dental implant placement or other procedures affecting the genitourinary tract. Patients at greater risk for PPP include those who are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome; taking medications for pain disorders including migraine headaches, lower back or neck pain as well as polymyalgia rheumatica or multiple sclerosis are also at higher risk. Preventative measures such as eye lubrication with Hylo or Genteal may significantly lower the risk of PPP for patients, making this an especially essential measure for elderly patients undergoing cataract surgery.


Glaucoma occurs when eye pressure reaches dangerously high levels, which can damage the optic nerve if left untreated. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide and many patients do not exhibit symptoms until it has already damaged the optic nerve; regular eye exams should therefore be scheduled in order to identify this potential problem early.

Glaucoma comes in two main varieties. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle between the iris and cornea becomes blocked, preventing watery fluid known as aqueous humour from draining correctly through the trabecular meshwork and raising eye pressure. Open-angle glaucoma generally develops slowly over time without producing any pain; however, untreated, it can lead to permanent blindness or vision loss.

Closed-angle glaucoma, an uncommon form of the condition in which the drainage angle of the eye suddenly becomes blocked, is more dangerous than open-angle glaucoma and can be caused by either lens or iris issues, genetic causes or an accident; symptoms may include blurred vision, rainbow halos around lights, severe eye pain and mid-dilated pupil size as well as nausea.

Medication can help treat glaucoma; some work by decreasing fluid production while others reduce pressure by helping it drain from the eye. Some patients may require surgery; in conventional phacoemulsification cataract surgery (called trabeculoplasty) an ophthalmologist creates a new opening for fluid to leave through trabeculoplasty; for an alternative procedure called an iridotomy procedure an ophthalmologist uses laser to cut through an iris to create an opening in which fluid flows directly towards its drainage angle.

Informing an ophthalmologist of any additional medical conditions or medications you take will allow them to determine if there may be another factor contributing to your headaches, and/or whether any interactions might have adverse side-effects on eyesight.

Untreated Astigmatism or Farsightedness

Astigmatism is an eye condition caused by the irregular shape of cornea and lens. It leads to blurry vision at all distances and headaches when left untreated, though treatment options such as glasses or corrective surgery such as LASIK may help. People suffering from astigmatism often squint in order to focus on objects or words they need focus on which can strain the eyes further and lead to headaches.

An astigmat, who undergoes cataract surgery can experience post-cataract headaches due to irregular cornea and lens shapes which cause light rays to focus incorrectly onto their retinas and result in blurred or distorted images, as well as increased risk for glaucoma.

Cataract surgery patients with astigmatism should be carefully evaluated for signs of glaucoma and other serious eye diseases. Without diagnosis and treatment, their symptoms could worsen, eventually leading to permanent blindness.

Hyperopia, another refractive error which can contribute to headaches, occurs when an eye is too long for its cornea’s curvature, allowing light rays to focus behind rather than precisely on the retina and cause distant objects to appear blurry while near ones remain clear. A simple eye chart may not detect this condition so a comprehensive exam must be performed in order to properly diagnose this condition.

Post-cataract headaches may also be caused by convergence insufficiency and accommodative spasm. Both conditions relate to near work and can produce frontal headaches that worsen at the end of a workday or when reading or using computers; both conditions can be corrected with glasses or through home orthoptic exercise programs.

Patients complaining of headache after cataract surgery should seek the advice of an ophthalmologist immediately, for an in-depth exam that includes visual fields, pupils, and fundus evaluation. Furthermore, imaging is also key if one-sided headaches (Horner’s syndrome) exist as this may indicate pituitary lesion(s). Neuroimaging may be needed in these instances in order to diagnose it correctly.


Studies have demonstrated that chronic or severe stress is one of the main contributing factors to post-cataract surgery headaches, while migraines, low back pain or other medical conditions were also at greater risk of experiencing vision problems post-op.

If you have been suffering from chronic tension headaches, speaking to your physician before scheduling cataract surgery could help provide some relief. Tricyclic antidepressants, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs or trigger-point injections could all provide effective remedies; additionally, practicing meditation or engaging in physical exercise may reduce stress levels and ease headaches.

Headaches can be caused by numerous conditions, including infections of the sinuses, spine, ears or teeth; glaucoma; inflammation of eyelids due to dental work or dental work on one or both eyes; sleep disorders as well as many others. To resolve a headache effectively it’s necessary to address its source, usually through medical treatments of some sort or therapy of some kind. In most instances treating its source will resolve its effect.

Doctors rely on patients for accurate accounts of their headache symptoms when diagnosing them, often asking detailed descriptions such as duration and frequency of episodes. Questions might include how often or long ago it happened? Have the headaches affected daily activities? And what makes them better or worse? Inflammatory conditions like giant cell arteritis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus can all cause headaches which include vision changes, fatigue, light sensitivity and stiffness of neck or back stiffness – making diagnosis even harder!

Symptoms of this condition include sharp, persistent headache pain in the frontotemporal region – most frequently on the right side – often with redness, swelling and watery eyes present. Depending on its severity, steroid medication such as prednisolone may be prescribed in order to alleviate it and reduce discomfort.

Mokhtarzadeh et al’s5 study of patients undergoing upper eyelid ptosis repair and blepharoplasty for obscuration of the superior visual field showed improvement on both pre and post HIT scores in those undergoing the procedure. Correction of ptosis can improve tension-type headache symptoms; hence it provides another functional indication for these procedures.

About the Author:
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Alexander Suprun

Alex started his first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continues harvesting this fruitful field today. He helped many startups and well-established companies to grow to the next level by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies. For the past 26 years, Alex has served over a hundred clients worldwide in all aspects of digital marketing and communications. Additionally, Alex is an expert researcher in healthcare, vision, macular degeneration, natural therapy, and microcurrent devices. His passion lies in developing medical devices to combat various ailments, showcasing his commitment to innovation in healthcare.


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