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Children’s Headaches are Rarely Linked to Vision Problems

New study out of New York refutes previously thought theories.

Parents are often mystified by the cause of their children's headaches. A common assumption is that headaches might be related to poor vision, indicating a need for eyeglasses.

But, a recent study says otherwise. New research presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago found that even when children’s headaches strike during visual tasks like homework, vision or eye problems are rarely the cause of kids’ headaches.

The study was conducted by pediatric ophthalmologists at Albany Medical Center in New York State to help provide more reliable answers for parents, family doctors and pediatricians who face this common health question. The researchers reviewed medical records of children under age 18 who were seen at the clinic for frequent headaches between 2002-2011. All of the children received complete eye exams by the clinic’s ophthalmologists.

The findings showed that there was no significant correlation between children’s frequent headaches and a need for vision correction. Follow up reports from parents showed that headaches improved three-quarters of the children, and headaches were equally likely to improve regardless of whether they received a new prescription for vision correction. 

“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,” said Zachary Roth, M.D., an ophthalmologist who led the research team.

For more information about children’s vision or other eye health issues, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

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