The remedy and solution for terrible eye pain and eye strain (from excessive computer use)

Can tight neck muscles cause dry eye/ eye strain symptoms?

Here's a very interesting hypothesis I found in Dr Maskin's brilliant book, Reversing Dry Eye Syndrome.

Referred eye pain (occipital neuralgia)

He suggests that occipital tenderness, caused by tense muscles at the base of the skull and neck, can cause pain in the eyes.


Greater occipital neuralgia (greater occipital nerve) arises from the occiput and may radiate anterior to the ipsilateral eye. Local anesthetic injection of the greater occipital nerve may relieve the pain. [Source]

Posterior occipital neuralgia is pain originating from the base of your skull that often wraps around to the front of the head and behind the eyes. The pain is due to inflamed or damaged occipital nerves in your neck. Pain can be severe and chronic and can affect one or both sides of your head.[Source]

This pain can be effectively diagnosed with an injection of lidocaine, a local anaesthetic. 

Treatment: massage and heat application.

Once the underlying causes of your pain are determined, in most cases your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation, muscle relaxants to stop spasms, physical therapy, massage, heat, and rest.

Patients usually recover fully from posterior occipital neuralgia once the pain has subsided and any damage to the nerves has been reduced or repaired. [Source]


1) Detailed description:

So many of my patients present with vague headaches and pain around the eyes. Well, it usually originates at the back of the neck. There is a twig of the trigeminal nerve (the sensory nerve of the had and neck) that connects to the tendon at the base of the skull. Lifting, cradling the phone, straining, grimacing during an examination, whiplash and even emotional tension can cause a knot at the base of the skull on either side of the cervical spine. This knot causes the eye pain and headaches and only needs to be recognized to be relieved.

If you have chronic sharp or dull pain that seems to arise deep in the eye, think Occipital Neuralgia, which is what this syndrome is called. You may know it as a tension headache. The pain can actually be referred pain to the forehead, jaw, ear or entire head. Many doctors and dentists don’t realize the remote source of the pain so you must be aware of this common syndrome. You can actually feel the knot in the neck and in the shoulder; then press firmly with two fingers. This will elicit neck discomfort and often exacerbate your eye pain. The ultimate treatment is deep tissue massage and not chiropractic or physical therapy.

I would suspect that each of you has experienced a tension headache. Now you know what to do…get a massage. [Source]

2) Neck massage

Your neck muscles go to the top of your head for its movements. The nerves for your eyes go to the back of your head, right past those muscles. When the muscles are tight they press into the nerves to cause pain to be felt on the back of the eyeball.

To get rid of both these problems you have to free up the muscles in your neck. Put your hands alongside your head so your thumbs are on the front of the muscle under your ear and your fingers are on the back of the muscle behind your neck. Squeeze your thumb and fingers together and hold.

Relax your body. When your fingers and thumb touch, about two minutes, slowly lower your head as far as you can, release the pressure but hold your neck lowered for another 30 seconds. 

For best results relax your body first by taking a deep breath and exhaling then remain this relaxed.

3) Facial Yoga

Details here:

4) Avoid tight neck:

Stiff neck and shoulder muscles will reduce blood flow to your head and eyes, which can damage the eyes. [Source]

5) Stress can cause dry eyes

Stress can cause changes in your body, as well as your emotions. Some of the common symptoms include dry eyes [Source]


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37 thoughts on “Can tight neck muscles cause dry eye/ eye strain symptoms?
  1. Liang

    Thanks for your post. I suffer tight neck and top (next to eyes) head.
    My English is not so good. Do you have a photo about:
    "Put your hands alongside your head so your thumbs are on the front of the muscle under your ear and your fingers are on the back of the muscle behind your neck. Squeeze your thumb and fingers together and hold.
    Relax your body. When your fingers and thumb touch, about two minutes, slowly lower your head as far as you can, release the pressure but hold your neck lowered for another 30 seconds. "
    Thanks a lot.

  2. roadnorth

    Thank you so much for posting this. I actually saw an opthalmologist today for my eye pain. I have had iritis in the past and wanted to make sure I was not having another episode. I actually told the MD that I had a huge knot in my right shoulder that I felt was causing my eye pain and blurred vision, but she did not address this. It truly feels that every time my knot gets bad, I get the eye pain. All this time I thought that maybe I was crazy, so coming across this article was a great relief.

    1. sabhlok

      I’m almost certain there is a connection between neck and eyeball muscles, but I’m now not focusing on neck issues, but cheek, nose and eyelid muscles. These, too, are strained in my case.

      1. Donna Bosela

        Yes, there is definitely a connection between the neck (cervical spine) and facial muscles and ear – as I have suffered from chronic right sided eye, forehead and ear pain for many, many years all related to my upper neck.
        This chart is from a article about pinched nerves:
        (Common Pain Patterns)

        C2- Posterior occipital, back of the head, headaches
        C3- Occipital, behind the eye, behind the ear pain
        C4- Base of neck, upper shoulder pain
        C5- Upper arm pain
        C6- Thumb, side of forearm, and index finger pain
        C7- Middle finger pain
        C8- Pain in the ring and little finger
        T1- Little finger, side of forearm pain
        This may be helpful to someone!

  3. moochi

    I wanted to thank you for this article.  I had a feeling that my eye strains were caused by referred pain around my shoulders and neck (both body parts always hurt at the same time).  I try to massage those areas as much as I can but there are actually some exercises that can relieve eye pain too.  Resting is actually one of my top choices.  It's difficult to not accumulate stress nowadays, everyone in my class experiences this around exam time!

  4. Martin Mintál

    Thank you very much for the excellent article ! I have been suffering from mild to severe pain behind my eyes for many years…. and from stiff neck muscles too (programmer job), but did not know, these two could be related.

    1. rebecca

      have you seen the doctor and receive any treatment? hows your eye pain now? as i m now also suffering the neck pain and pain behind eye also

      1. sabhlok

        I’m BEYOND SICK of doctors. The most unethical community that has NO INTEREST in learning. But that’s a different matter.

        It is now nearly one year since I have stopped using all eye drops. Incrementally I’m getting better despite punishing schedule of over 12 hours computer work each day.

        If you have eye strain, please note it is NOT just eye muscles. But cheek/nose/eyebrow, etc. muscles. Also neck.

        The solution is MASSIVE stretches and hard pressing with fingers wherever you can (without of course pressing the eyeball@)

  5. Deantha Hall

    This is the most spot on article Ive read about my problems. I had a sudden sharp pain shoot up from my shoulder into my head one night while lying in bed. Ever sense then I cant move my neck right and have had that strained feeling behind my eyes. Ive always had back and neck issues so I didnt think much about it but the eye thing was new. I just started to wonder if they were related and I found your article. So helpful, thanks for posting.

  6. Ranoco

    Thank you for this info. Im really lost as to what is going in the muscles around my eyes. It really freaks me out but after reading this, im sorta notice that my problem precipiatated when i started excersising my neck, and i think Ive done it a wrong way. Thank you so much. 

  7. Veni

    Thank you so much. I've visited 10 over eye specialist. I browsed a lot on eye pain and what could cause it but never come through this article. After a year, now when I slowly realize stiffness in my head muscle and jaw, and when I browse with keyword (yoga excercise to relax head muscle) I found this article! I wish your article could be tracked so much earlier. Anyway, Thanks a lot. (I too not so clear with the excercise) wish you can explain clearer.  God bless.

  8. Shelly

    I would like to know if you could tell me if this is the same. I don't have pian but when I look down for a while and raise my head everything is blurry. I broke my shoulder 2 years ago and I have very bad spasams. When I had a MRI done they found buldging dics in c3 c4 and c5 and c6. all the musculs in my neck and shoulder are so messed up that the physical therapist can not do anything for me. they tried traction and the neck popped and the back of my head went num and the ring finger and little fingure whee num. and when they sat me up I was very dizzy. I want to know if the blurred vission could be coming from everything that is going on in my shoulder and neck


    1. Malcolm J D Rebbetts

      Dear sir. I have all of these problems previously mentioned but also horrible vertigo. Is this common with this ailment .

  9. carol

    Thank you for your article. I have had carotid surgery and my neck 16″ weeks later is stiff affecting my whole back. I also have pain behind my eye. I am having regular massages, I’m glad I’m on the right track.

    1. sabhlok

      I don’t think my hypothesis of the neck tightness affecting eye pain was conclusive proven in my case. I suspect most of my eye pain was from tight facial (inculding nose) muscles.

      1. cindii

        Thanks for this subject. I am experiencing all of what is being discussed here. Neck strain eye strain, tension headache. Going on for weeks, the headache for days now. Tell me has anyone experienced rolling y9ur eyes from side to side and hearing a swooshing sound in the head?

  10. Christi

    OMG I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR THIS FOR A YEAR AND A HALF!!! I cannot thank you enough!!!!!!!!!! Those recommendations are EXACTLY a what I do…. Massage chiropractic heat and rest and Pt. I have been to several doctors all dismissing me to someone else.

  11. Grace Thomas

    I've got myself into a bit of a mess, I've suffered from severe anxiety for many years. It very much presents itself physically. Panic attacks, sweating, palpitations, but the worst is the headaches, they are the base of my skull and radiate all over my head and down my neck. My eyes have been achey for the past year since these headaches got bad, the muscles around them just feel sore and uncomfortable, I have on and off blurriness. This is nearly all down the left hand side. I noticed a few weeks ago that I couldn't focus on the hairs on my left eyebrow when I tried to pluck them, because my head was tilted slightly. I realised then that whenever I was focusing on anything to the left I was getting double vision. I had a full sight check and everything is perfect except for this strange anomaly. The optometrist has referred me to an eye muscle specialist (?) but that's weeks away, she said my eye is healthy and pressure fine etc so she's not overly concerned. Is it at all possible that through anxiety, stress and severe crippling tension headaches on one side that I've actually damaged or misaligned my eyes? (Double vision disappeares when I cover an eye). I can't find anything on this on the web but through other reading and realising how closely linked all these muscles are in wondering if this is possible.

  12. Umairsadiq


    I have a severe pain since last two years in the middle of my neck that is throabing and pulsating to my head and then revert to shoulders and arms. My eyesights are also get affected. I have consulted with eye specialist, but i have just +0.25 eyesight, which usually recovers. but my vission is changing every day. I have also a ct scan tests, my neck truma is central no issue. i have really a irritation while working on laptop or reading books. I really need your guidance. My life is just like a hell due to this pain through out a day or month.



  13. Linda

    Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia sum up exactly what I have been experiencing. My neck muscles are so tight especially on the left. And I have had recent cataract surgery on the left eye as well. Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia presented prior to and have continued post surgery. Most likely increased as well by poor posture reading or on the computer to compensate for my loss of vision in the left eye prior to surgery. Plus a good deal of stress and anxiety. My only question at this point is “when I bend over the pressure and aching / pain behind my left eye increases”. Does this make sense looking at Occipital Neuralgia?? Your article has been extremely helpful and I am grateful !

    1. sabhlok

      Please note I finally determined that my problem was found to be almost entirely due to tight facial and internal eye muscles.

      I’m unable to comment on your question.

  14. Navita

    Hi my eyes feel heavy all the time like tired all the time. They are achy if doing computer work.
    Any idea?

  15. Jassi

    Halo Sir, Actualy i started pain in my eyes to after neck pain as i used heavy Helmet but Doctors dint tell any signs of like neck issues its just spasms and neck stifness and weak muscles what can be done as i have pain behind my eyes and headche to sometimes !

  16. Impreet Kaur

    Sir its been 3 4 months i am suffering from neck and shoulder stiffness..pain at the base of skull..light headedness its like i am walking on sand ..My eyes got dry when pain and stiffness in dere and also blurry vision .. After working for 10 minutes on laptop my eyes got very tired and i just shut my eyes to relax them but it happens only when the pain and stiffness is there.. it is irritating me day by day ..I consult a neurologist and they gave me neurobion tab and a stress medcine ..but i want to treat it by yoga and exercises..plz suggest me what my problem actually is and what should i do for this..

    1. rielly Johnson

      Hi Impreet ive been suffering for 2 years now with exactly what you describe have you found anything that helps? please let me know me and my family have spent over $200,000 and not gotten anywhere sold our home everything

      1. sabhlok

        I’ve been working on to improve my eyestrain issue – it is now over 8 years and not yet fully resolved. I’ve added a new thing – to dip the face in a pot of cold water once a day. That seems to help.

  17. Dani

    I also have neck pain and headaches and has realized this is the likely cause of eye pain (in my case my eye goes very red for days). I had bad whiplash of my neck 14 years ago in a car accident, does everyone here relate by having bad whiplash or accident at some point?

  18. Ranu ghildyal

    Thank God I came across your article .I have gone through five doctors in the past two months and everyone seems so clueless.One high profile neurologist last week gave me migraine prescription .Imagine tensely waiting for the doctor for two hours and being prescribed migraine pills .I have all the symptoms you described .A pain at the base of my throat which feels like a pinched nerve .Shooting electric shock like pain on the crown of my head,tinnitus ,dry eyes .Also wanted to ask if anyone has had dry nose to go with this .My nose is terribly dry and it feels very uncomfortable .I also have a clicking sound in my throat .


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