Contrary to popular belief, children's headaches are rarely triggered by vision problems, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the opthalmology clinic of Albany Medical Center in New York.
Of the children studied, 75% had the same vision test results both before and after they complained of headaches. The study determined that there is no significant link between headaches and a need for glasses, even if the headaches occur while doing homework or other visual tasks. Researchers found that frequent headaches typically resolved over a period of time, regardless of whether or not the child got a corrective prescription.
Dr. Zachary Roth, who lead the research team, said, "We hope our study will help reassure parents that in most cases their children's headaches are not related to vision or eye problems, and that most headaches will clear up in time."
Vision screenings should be a part of a pediatric wellness visit and should be done every year or two, recommends Dr. Daniel Neely, the chairman of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus' (AAPOS) vision screening committee. AAPOS recommends children have a documented vision measurement by age 5: "The reason that there's a time factor on these screenings is because of a condition called amblyopia," explains Neely, which is the leading cause of vision loss. The condition, commonly referred to as lazy eye, occurs when the eye sends blurry images to the brain and can result in the brain learning to ignore images from the weaker eye. Children are less likely to respond to corrective treatment as they age, "So the younger you identify them, the more easily you can treat them. [...] By the time the kid gets to school that window of opportunity is closing," remarks Neely.
Image: Girl with headache via Shutterstock