Kids' Headaches Rarely Due to Vision Problems, Study Finds

TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Vision or eye problems are rarely the cause of repeated headaches in children, even if the headaches usually seem to occur when the child is doing homework or other visual tasks, a new study reveals.

The findings refute a widely held belief among parents that frequent headaches mean their child needs glasses, the researchers said.

The investigators, from Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., reviewed the medical records of 158 children under age 18 who had undergone complete eye exams at the center's ophthalmology clinic for frequent headaches between 2002 and 2011.

There was no significant association between frequent headaches and the need for eyeglasses, according to the study authors.

The findings were presented Nov. 12 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago.

New eyeglass prescriptions didn't make it more likely that headaches would decrease among the study participants. Headaches eventually decreased in about three-quarters of the children, whether or not they received new prescriptions, according to follow-up reports from parents.

About 30 percent of the children had eye conditions that required something other than vision correction, including "lazy eye" (amblyopia) and misaligned eyes (strabismus). Seventeen percent of the children had a family history of migraine, the researchers noted in a news release from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

"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," study leader Dr. Zachary Roth, said in the news release. "The information should also be useful to family doctors and pediatricians in caring for children and parents who have this common health concern."

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children's vision.

-- Robert Preidt

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Migraine headaches often are accompanied by other symptoms.