A headache behind the left eye is not a rare condition. The pain can interfere with work, home duties, and other daily activities. It can be located in the eye, behind the eye, or in the head.
A headache behind the left eye may range from mild or dull to a throbbing and sharp stabbing. You may also experience nausea, flashing lights, or sensitivity to light. This pain will make it hard for you to concentrate or fall asleep.
The common causes of a headache behind the left eye are cluster headaches, tension headaches, eyestrain, and migraine. However, there are also other causes of why this condition occurs. Knowing the exact cause of a headache can help you deal with it properly.
Headache Behind Left Eye: 13 Common Causes with Treatments
Here are the possible causes of a headache behind the left eye.
1. Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches, one of the painful types of headaches, can occur in clusters or cyclical patterns.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that Cluster headaches usually occur in the middle of the night. The pain can wake you up during sleep, accompanied by intense pain around or in one eye.
The periods of pain may last from a few weeks to months and sometimes even years. This headache is not life-threatening, and treatments can make the pain less severe. The common signs and symptoms of a cluster headache include:
- Intense pain in or around one eye
- Pain radiating to face, neck, and shoulders
- Restlessness and facial sweating
- Redness in one eye
- The runny or stuffy nose on the affected side
- Drooping eyelid and swelling around the eye
Cluster headaches Treatment
An attack may last from fifteen to three hours and occur daily. With an accurate diagnosis from a professional, you can have proper treatments. Here are some treatments that help you alleviate the symptoms.
- Oxygen inhaling treatment
- Nasal drops – anesthetics
- Physical and breathing exercises
- Drink ginger tea
- Use peppermint essential oil in a diffuser
Preventing cluster headaches
Long-term treatment may result in the prevention or decrease of future cycles. However, it often takes some time to get a hold of the condition. Here are some tips that will help you out:
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol
- Avoid great altitude changes
- Reduce evening and afternoon naps – establish proper sleeping routines
- Limit your exposure to chemical agents
2. Tension Headache
Tension headaches are one of the most common reasons that causes of pain behind the eyes.
Doctors from Healthline say that the pain from a tension headache usually occurs in the neck, forehead, and behind the eyes. It can be mild, moderate, or intense. It feels like a tight strap on your forehead.
This type of headache has many different causes, such as stress, eye dry, and eye strain.
Home remedies for tension headaches
- You can take frequent breaks when watching a computer or mobile.
- Using eye drops can also help you get rid of a tension headache effectively.
One of the common causes of a headache behind the left eye is eyestrain. This may occur when the eyes are tired from long and intense use, such as staring at the computer for long hours or driving long distances.
According to Dr. Andrew A. Dahl from MedicineNet, eyestrain usually disappears once you close and rest your eyes. But in rare cases, it can be a sign of an eye problem that requires immediate treatment.
Other signs and symptoms of eyestrain include:
- A headache
- Tired, sore, and itchy eye or eyes
- Blurred vision
- Pain in neck, back, and shoulders
- Increased sensitivity to brightness
Home remedies for eyestrain
- Moisturize your eyes with eye oil such as honey or castor oil.
- Place a cucumber slice over each closed eye to provide them with soothing effects.
- Dab 2 cotton balls in cold milk and place them over the eyes for 5 – 10 minutes.
Tips for prevention
Preventing eye strain is easier than you may think but also harder because you have to adjust your lifestyle.
- Take regular eye breaks, especially if you’re looking at the screen a lot
- Make sure your screen is clean and set to low lighting
- Moisturize your eyes, especially if the air is dry
- Make it a habit of blinking frequently
- Adjust the distance of the monitor
Note: If resting your eyes does not help, see a doctor immediately.
Another possible cause of a headache behind your left eye is a migraine.
A person may experience severe throbbing pain on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to sound and light, and vomiting. A Migraine can be disabling when it is severe.
During an attack, you may also experience:
- Lightheadedness, followed by painting
- Throbbing or pulsing pain
- Blurred vision
Natural ways to treat migraine at home
- Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and drink the solution.
- Apply an ice pack on the head. Ensure the ice doesn’t come in direct touch with the skin.
- Drink peppermint tea with honey.
- Drink a lot of water to stay well-hydrated
- Stick to a gluten-free diet
- Exercise daily
- Sleep for at least 8 hours per day
- Limit stress
Note: If you have been experiencing migraines many times already, talk to your doctor about your experiences. If a headache is accompanied by fever, seizures, numbness, double vision, mental confusion, and severe pain, seek medical help immediately.
5. Orbital Cellulitis
Orbital cellulitis occurs when the muscles and fat around the eyes become infected. This condition also affects the eyebrows, eyelids, and cheeks. Caused by Haemophilus influenza, Streptococcus pneumonia, or Staphylococcus aureus, orbital cellulitis is a dangerous infection.
Children who are suffering from this condition may lose their vision if the problem gets worse. Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Bulging eyes
- Pain in the upper and lower eyelid
- Pain on cheeks, eyebrows, and when moving the eye
- Blurred vision
- Red or purple eyelid
Treating orbital cellulitis at home
- Use a cotton ball to apply tea tree oil to the affected area.
- Apply coconut oil to reduce swelling and redness.
- Mix turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, with a few drops of tea tree oil to create a paste. Apply this mixture to the swelling.
How to prevent orbital cellulitis
- Balanced diet
- Moderate exercise
Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve, which happens when the pressure becomes too high.
According to National Eye Institute, people with glaucoma may suffer from severe pain, nausea, blurred vision, and eye redness. This condition may also lead to blindness.
While glaucoma is common in older adults, it can occur at any age. Vision loss caused by glaucoma cannot be recovered, so eye checkups to measure the pressure on the eyes is important.
Early diagnosis can slow down or prevent vision loss. The symptoms of glaucoma develop gradually, and they may include:
- Eye redness
- A Severe headache and eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Halos around the lights
- Blurred vision
- Patchy blind spots in the side or center of vision
- Tunnel vision (advanced stages)
Glaucoma can be treated professionally with the use of eye drops and pills. Sometimes, laser surgery is required. You can also try to treat glaucoma at home by adjusting your eating habits. Include the following foods in your diet:
- Carotenoid-rich foods such as oranges and yellow bell peppers
- Wild-caught fish
- Brewer’s yeast
- Fennel plant
- Cherries and blueberries
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Get regular eye checkups
- Exercise your eyes
- Wear eye protection while working
- Take prescribed eye drops
- Limit your caffeine intake
Note: See an ophthalmologist if you develop some symptoms, such as blurred vision, eye pain, and headache.
7. A Sinusitis
One of the common causes of a headache behind the left eye is sinusitis. This problem is caused by an infection or allergic reaction in the paranasal sinuses. When the linings of the sinuses become inflamed, congested, or swollen, it can lead to pain.
Dr. Stephanie Watson on Healthline says a sinus infection can cause pain behind your nose, ear, eyes, and cheeks.
Other signs and symptoms of sinusitis may include:
- Thick discharge from the nose
- Postnasal discharge or drainage down the back of the throat
- Nasal congestion
- Stuffy nose
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- A cough
Home remedies for sinusitis
- Drink lots of fluids
- Prepare steam with menthol or eucalyptus oil and hold your head above to breathe it in.
- Use saline water to flush your nasal passages
- Eat spicy foods
- Humidify the air
- Apply warm compress
Sinusitis prevention tips
- Regularly flush your nasal passages with saline solutions
- Drink sufficient amounts of water
- Boil water and inhale the steam or take hot showers
- Avoid smoking
- Humidify the air in your home
Note: If your symptoms do not improve, see a doctor immediately.
8. Vision Issues – Optic Neuritis
This condition occurs when the optic nerve is inflamed, caused by the loss or damage of the sheath that protects it. Optic neuritis is common in people who have multiple sclerosis.
Other causes of this condition include ocular herpes, sinusitis, nutritional deficiency, toxins such as tobacco and alcohol, infections like toxoplasmosis, and heredity. Other symptoms that one may experience are:
- Pain in the eye
- Loss of vision in one eye
- Side vision loss
- Loss of color perception
- Flickering lights when moving the eyes
Most cases of optic neuritis resolve on their own. The vision may return within two weeks to 12 months. Treatment may vary depending on the underlying cause.
- Steroid treatment is usually recommended. It is also used for slowing down or lowering the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
- Plasma exchange therapy might help if steroid therapy fails to recover vision.
- Include soybean milk, barley brew, apple, spinach, and other healthy foods to accelerate the healing process.
- Minimizing your risk of acquiring infections (bacterial and viral) lowers the risk of optic neuritis.
Note: This condition can be serious. If you develop any of these symptoms or the symptoms get worse, seek medical help immediately.
9. Pain From Dry Eyes
Dry eyes syndrome is also one of the causes of a headache behind the left eye. It is a condition that happens when the tears are not providing enough lubrication for the eyes. This may feel uncomfortable as it may burn or sting.
You can experience dry eyes when staring at a computer for a long time, riding a bicycle, or staying in an air-conditioned room. This can be treated by changing your lifestyle or using eye drops. Other symptoms that may develop include:
- Burning or scratchy feeling in the eye or eyes
- Light sensitivity
- A feeling of having something in the eyes
- Difficulty driving at night
- Watery eyes (your body’s response to irritation caused by dry eyes)
- Eye fatigue
- Blurred vision
Ways to treat dry eyes
- For most people, over-the-counter eye drops help in adding lubrication.
- Apply a warm towel over your eyes for about five minutes.
- Wash your eyelids frequently with mild soap.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the room.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as ground flaxseed, fish oils, almonds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Always massage your tear glands to prevent dry eyes.
Read: Red Dots Under Eyes Causes and Treatment
Scleritis is the inflammation of the white part of the eye (sclera). This serious disease is often related to autoimmune disorders, and prompt treatment is needed to prevent vision loss.
Scleritis is often associated with arthritis, systemic lupus erythematous IQ, mixed connective tissue disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic angiitis, progressive systemic sclerosis, and polyarteritis nodosa. Other symptoms of Scleritis may include:
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Excessive tearing
- Sensitivity to light
- Redness of the white portion of the eye
- Pain when moving the eyes
- Eye irritation
- Deep-seated headaches
How to treat Scleritis
- Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and pain.
- If NSAIDs don’t work, corticosteroid pills may be used.
- Foods rich in vitamins A, B12, C, and D
How to prevent Scleritis
This condition cannot be directly prevented. Those with systematic inflammatory diseases should manage the underlying cause to prevent Scleritis from occurring and aggravating.
Note: Severe scleritis may require surgery. Seek medical help for early treatment.
11. Ocular Migraine
One of the possible causes of a headache behind the left eye is an ocular migraine.
Doctors from WebMD say that an ocular migraine can make you get vision loss in one eye for a short time. This migraine involves visual disturbances, and it may develop with or without pain. During an attack, you may see flashing or zigzagging lines.
While an ocular migraine is not a serious condition, it may also cause blind spots and interfere with daily tasks such as driving, reading, or writing.
Other symptoms of an ocular migraine are:
- Partial vision loss
- Blank spots in the vision
- Flashes of light
- Dimming or blurring
Ocular migraines usually last for less than five minutes up to thirty minutes.
Natural techniques for treating ocular migraine
- Drink basil tea and prepare it to steam with a few drops of basil essential oil in it
- Massage the back of your head and the neck with peppermint or lavender essential oil
- Drink chamomile tea
- Practice yoga to reduce mental clutter
How to prevent an ocular migraine
- Decrease stress
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid birth control pills
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid high altitudes
- Stay well-hydrated
- Avoid excessive heat
12. An aneurysm
A brain aneurysm is a bulging in the wall of an artery in the brain. In most cases, this condition does not develop symptoms. When the aneurysm leaks or ruptures, it results in subarachnoid hemorrhage or bleeding into the brain.
A ruptured aneurysm is dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. An unruptured aneurysm, which causes symptoms and creates health issues, should be treated immediately to prevent a rupture. The symptoms of an aneurysm include:
- A severe headache that is different from a regular or a past headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of consciousness
Depending on the type, the aneurysm is usually treated with medications or through surgery. The two main surgery techniques include open chest or abdominal and endovascular repair. The purpose of the treatment is to prevent an aneurysm from getting worse and damaging body structures.
The best way to prevent an aneurysm is by avoiding the factors that may cause it. Make sure to:
- Quit smoking
- Establish a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein-rich foods
- Stay physically active
- The risk of a ruptured aneurysm may increase due to smoking, high blood pressure, and family history.
13. Eye Pain from Brain Infection
Bacteria, fungi, or viruses can cause brain infections. This condition may also involve the spinal cord. Infections cause encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. The most common causes of encephalitis are viruses.
Another brain infection that leads to inflammation of the meninges, layers of tissue covering the spinal cord and the brain, is meningitis. When both the meninges and the brain are infected, this condition is called meningoencephalitis.
Abscessed look like boils that can form on any body part, including the brain. Empyema is another infection that forms in a space in the body, such as the space between the lungs or the brain.
The treatment for brain infection depends on the underlying cause.
- Antibiotics may be given as other medications for a headache and fever.
- Those with respiratory problems will receive oxygen.
- Anticonvulsants may be used to treat or prevent seizures.
- Steroids may be given in case of brain swelling.
- In the case of a brain abscess, drainage will be performed by a neurosurgeon.
Seek medical attention if you suspect that someone has a brain infection. Some tips that may be useful include:
- Provide cooling measures to alleviate fever.
- Follow the doctor’s advice and avoid any extreme activities.
These are the most common causes of a headache behind the left eye. When you experience unusual headaches, see a professional right away for early diagnosis and treatment.