A headache is commonly felt in different areas of the head, including forehead, temples, sinuses, and behind one or both eyes. While some of the causes are known, others can be difficult to distinguish. Experiencing a headache behind right eye can feel like shooting or stabbing pain that radiates from one side of the forehead. Regardless of the underlying cause, the ache can range from mild, moderate or severe.
13 Causes of Headache Behind Right Eye
Headaches are one of the symptoms of different health issues. Depending on the reason, you may experience other temporary symptoms like nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, neck pain, and light flashes.
1. Lifestyle Factors
Lifestyle plays a significant role in preventing different health problems, including the intensity and frequency of headaches. One may experience a headache behind right eye due to:
- Neck pain related to current or previous job
- Skipping meals
- Side effects of medications
Stress triggers many headaches and migraines and taking a bath or reading a book may not be enough to alleviate the pain. You may need to do meditation or breathing exercises to reduce stress levels effectively. Eat balanced meals, often exercise, practice good posture, and make a sleep schedule to combat stress.
2. Tension Headache
The most common type of a headache, tension headache feels like there is a tight band around the head and may cause mild, moderate or excruciating pain behind your eyes, neck, and head. It can occur due to muscle contractions in the neck and head regions. The symptoms of a tension headache are:
- Dull, aching pain in the head
- Feeling of pressure or tightness across the forehead or on the back and sides of the head
- Tenderness on shoulder, scalp, and neck muscles
Episodic tension headache usually lasts for 30 minutes to one week and may occur less than 15 days a month. Chronic tension headache lasts for hours and may occur 15 or more days a month. See your doctor if a tension headache affects your life, especially if you have to take medication for a headache two or more times a week.
3. Migraine Headache
One of the possible causes of a headache behind the right eye is a migraine headache. It causes a pulsing sensation or severe throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. It can also be accompanied by sensitivity to sound and light, nausea, and vomiting. Migraine headaches may progress through four phases. The symptoms of four stages of a migraine headache include:
- Prodrome (One or two days before a migraine) – Constipation, neck stiffness, increased urination and thirst, mood changes, food cravings, and frequent yawning.
- Aura (Before or during a migraine) – Vision loss, hearing music or noises, visual phenomena, difficulty speaking, pins and needles sensations in leg or arm, and uncontrollable jerking.
- Attack – Pulsing or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, blurred vision, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sounds, light, touch, and smell.
- Post-drome (Final stage) – Moodiness, confusion, weakness, sensitivity to sound and light, and dizziness.
It is best to see a doctor to discuss your migraine headache, especially when accompanied by a stiff neck, double vision, numbness or pain like a thunderclap.
4. Cluster Headache
A cluster headache is one of the most painful types of a problem as it occurs in clusters or cyclical patterns. It commonly awakens you with excruciating pain in or around one eye. Cluster periods may last for weeks to months, followed by remission periods (no headaches occur for months or years). The typical symptoms of this problem include:
- Extreme pain in or around an eye and may radiate to head, face, neck, and shoulders
- Redness in the affected eye
- One-sided pain
- Drooping eyelid
- Facial sweating
- Runny or stuffy nose on the affected side
- Pale skin
See your doctor if your headache is abrupt and severe, accompanied by fever, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, difficulty speaking, and numbness.
5. Sinus Infection
Sinus infections can cause a headache behind or under the eye near the clogged sinus. It may also cause common symptoms like:
- A runny nose or drainage of a thick, greenish or yellow discharge from the nose
- Postnasal drainage, nasal congestion
- Pain, swelling, and pressure around the eyes, nose, cheeks or forehead
- A sore throat, bad breath
- A cough, fever, fatigue
- Ear pressure
Because of the pressure buildup, coughing, sneezing, and bending over, blocked sinuses will cause pain behind the eyes and around your forehead.
A headache behind right eye can be a sign of eyestrain. It usually occurs when your eyes get tired from prolonged, intense use, such as staring at computer screens and driving for hours. This can be annoying, but it usually goes away after taking enough rest. Other symptoms of eyestrain include:
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Dry or watery eyes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Itching or burning eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling like you cannot keep the affected eye open
See a doctor if home remedies and relaxation do not relieve the symptoms.
7. Trauma or Injury
Injury or trauma to the right side of your head can be the cause of a headache behind or around your right eye. Depending on the severity, it may cause a recurring headache even after it has healed. Traumatic headaches can also cause cluster headaches.
8. Giant Cell Arteritis
Another possible cause of a headache behind the right eye is giant cell arteritis. Also known as temporal arteritis, it is an inflammation of the lining of the arteries in the head. If left untreated, this condition can result in blindness or stroke. The general signs and symptoms of giant cell arteritis are:
- Recurring head pain, usually in temple areas
- Jaw pain when opening the mouth wide or chewing
- Scalp tenderness
- Weight loss
- Fever, fatigue
- Double vision or vision loss
- Sudden or permanent vision loss in one eye
If you develop a persistent headache and other symptoms mentioned above, see your doctor immediately.
A person may suffer a severe headache in right eye due to damaged or trapped nerves in the head. This condition affects the trigeminal nerves in the face and causes stabbing pain around the left or right eye. The jabbing or shooting pain can be triggered by some actions, including speaking, brushing your teeth, applying makeup, drinking or eating, and touching your face.
You may experience pain that lasts for a few seconds or minutes. A series of attacks can last for days, weeks, or months. If facial pain accompanies your headache behind right eye, see your doctor for proper diagnosis.
10. Vision Problems
In some cases, pain behind one or both eyes is caused by a problem with the eye itself and must be appropriately treated. For example, a person who has an uncorrected vision issue, such as astigmatism, farsightedness or nearsightedness, may experience a headache and eye pain because the eye and brain are trying to work harder for poor vision abilities.
Other possible causes of a headache behind right eye are optic neuritis, which is the inflammation of the optic nerve, and Scleritis, which is the inflammation of the outer coating of the eyeball.
Glaucoma is an eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, which is essential to have good vision. High pressure usually causes the damage to the eye. The effect is gradual, and some symptoms are not noticeable until the problem is at an advanced phase. Depending on the stage of the condition, symptoms may include:
- Patchy blind spots in peripheral or central vision
- Tunnel vision (advanced stage)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe headache
- Eye pain, redness
- Halos around lights
Vision loss caused by glaucoma cannot be recovered. See an eye doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of proper diagnosis and immediate treatment.
An aneurysm is the ballooning or bulging of an artery’s wall. It can rupture and result in internal bleeding. This condition does not usually show symptoms, so a person may not know that he or she has an aneurysm even if the bulge is large.
When symptoms occur, some signs of an unruptured aneurysm include pain above or behind one eye, double vision or change in sight, a dilated pupil, drooping eyelid, and numbness.
Common symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm are:
- Sudden, excruciating headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
- Drooping eyelid
- Loss of consciousness or seizure
Seek medical attention if you develop sudden, extreme headache.
A brain tumor is a growth or accumulation of abnormal cells in the brain. It increases pressure in the skull and produces pain throughout the head, but may also cause localized pain behind an eye. The general symptoms of a brain tumor include:
- Headaches that gradually become more severe and frequent
- Seizures, muscle twitches, spasms, jerks
- Change in vision, sensation, hearing or smell
- Balance and speech difficulties
- Gradual loss of sensation in a leg or an arm
- Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately to prevent the possibility tumor growth in your head.
Knowing the underlying cause of a headache behind right eye allows you to conduct a proper treatment. You can relieve common problems naturally by applying a cold compress, improving sleep habits, lowering stress levels, eating nutritious meals, and with massage therapy. Exercise regularly and consider reducing your consumption of caffeine as coffee can trigger headaches.
If the pattern of headache changes and becomes more frequent or severe, see a doctor immediately.