Eyes Burning and Headache: 9 Causes and Treatments

If you suffer from burning eyes and headaches, there are several significant problems that can cause these symptoms, including nerve disorders, tumors, and other critical disorders. Head and eye issues should not be ignored, as the root cause of these symptoms can be very serious. Instead, you should see your doctor just as soon as you can. Let your health professional examine you and diagnose what the cause of your problem is.

Eyes Burning and Headache: Causes and Treatments

Some of the possible causes are as follows:

1. Migraine Headaches

Migraines are among the most common causes of headaches. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, numbness, confusion, and a severe throbbing pain at the front and sides of the head. Ocular migraines present as burning eyes, intermittent vision loss, seeing light flashes, but can lead to total vision loss.

Migraines are not as common as tension headaches; however, migraines are generally much more severe and can cause a person to become completely incapacitated. A migraine can last anywhere from a few hours to several days or even months at a time.


  • Use of an OTC medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be helpful, but some people may require a stronger prescription medication.
  • Adequate sleep in a cool, well-ventilated room, and eating balanced meals at regular times may help ward off a migraine.
  • An ice pack on the affected area may help, as may a soothing massage.

2. Cluster Headaches

Not as common as other types of headaches, the cluster headache often occurs in a cycle. It can last for several days, or up to a couple of months per year, often at or close to the same time each time. Men seem to have cluster headaches more than women, and this type of headache can run in the family. Cluster headaches often express themselves with severe pain usually in one eye, a runny or stuffy nose, and red watery eyes.


Rest as much as possible and take pain medication to combat a cluster headache. Some people benefit from using oxygen supplement to open up constricted blood vessels. If your OTC medication doesn’t do the job, see your doctor who may give you a prescription for a stronger pain medication.

3. Tension Headache

One of the causes of eyes burning and headache is tension headache. A tension headache can feel like a constriction around your head, and can last anywhere from thirty minutes to several days. They usually aren’t bad enough to interfere with your work. Often, a tension headache is caused by overuse or a neck injury.


Regular OTC painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are recommended for tension headaches. Drink plenty of water, sleep seven to nine hours each night, and reduce the stress in your life. A heating pad may help, or if not, try an ice pack at the base of your head to see if you find relief.

4. Sinusitis

If you have a sinus infection, you are likely to experience a headache. There are several sinus cavities surrounding the eyes, which, when infected, cause burning eyes. If you have a stuffy and/or runny nose, a mild fever, throbbing pain, are sensitive to light, and feel eye pressure, you probably have a sinus headache.


To treat a sinus headache, you will want to relieve the pressure and congestion you feel, and treat the infection with antibiotics. Regular use of a saline nasal spray or a neti pot can help prevent sinusitis.

5. Dry Eyes

When you experience eyes burning and headaches, they can be the result of chronic dry eyes. This type of headache can cause sharp, shooting pains behind the afflicted eye or eyes. You may experience irritation, itching, burning, or suddenly watering eyes.


Commercially prepared artificial tears applied to the eyes will hydrate the eye tissues and relieve the symptoms. If the case is extreme, you may need to see an ophthalmologist for more aggressive treatment.

6. Orbital Inflammatory Syndrome

Orbital inflammatory syndrome occurs when the orbit, the area around the eye that contains the fat cells, nerves, lymphatics, blood vessels, and eye movement muscles, becomes inflamed. This can cause painful headaches thanks to the pressure put on the eyes and the brain cavity. Symptoms may include pain or discomfort when moving the eyes from right to left or from touching the eye area.


Ordinary OTC pain medications that are anti-inflammatory are the usual treatment for orbital inflammatory syndrome.

7. Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, and it usually presents itself just before a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. This condition makes the eyes move improperly and is usually reoccurring. It causes intense headaches, spreading to the muscle tissues that surround the eyes. Numbness, visual misconceptions, changes in color perception, and blurry vision are common symptoms.


Treatments of optic neuritis include using anti-inflammatories such as steroids, and lessening the associated pain.

8. Cranial Nerve Palsies

There are several cranial nerves coming from the brain to the eyes that allow us to see. But if an injury, inflammation, or nerve compression happens, the result is cranial nerve palsy. Not only does the person have severe headaches, but also the eyes themselves are very painful. Double vision, dropping eyelids, and changes in the size of the pupils are symptoms of cranial nerve palsy.


If you experience any of these symptoms, see your health professional to check for the possibility of a stroke or brain tumor, or any other underlying cause of this problem.

9. Eyestrain

Eyestrain commonly occurs when your eyes tire from prolonged use, such as when staring at TV or computer screens or similar devices, or when driving long distances. Some symptoms are:

  • Eyes burning and headache
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Sore back, neck, or shoulders
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Difficulty in keeping eyes open
  • Difficulty in concentration


Rest your eyes periodically when using the computer or other device by looking off into the distance. Relax muscle tension with relaxation exercises. You may need to make changes in your daily routine. Wear glasses if you need them. If none of these treatments help, see your eye doctor.