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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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Can brain tumours cause daytime headaches and blurred vision?

Answered by
Dr. Antoneta Zotaj

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 1892 Questions

Posted on Tue, 9 Oct 2018 in Brain and Spine
Question: New symptoms, Morning headaches a few mornings a week waking up with them, blurry vision during the day (this has been going on for about 5 months) when straining my eyes. I had eyes checked last spring, wearing glasses for reading. Most of the day, vision is ok, unless I do close up work, focus, then blurry for a while, rest and blurriness goes away. Not associated with headaches. Hx of chronic neck/upper back pain as well as anxiety. I also have allergies, some night difficulty breathing through nose, and I snore but no known sleep apnea. Also, I used to drink about 3 to 4 glasses of wine most nights since my 40's but I have stopped doing this in the last 5 The headaches can go away during the morning with no meds or can continue. Also getting some headaches during day. My concern is the morning headaches and during the day vision blurriness. If these where related to brain tumor would the vision be blurry at the same time as the headaches? No other symptoms. Have a doctor's appointment next week but would like your opinion if I should be worried about tumor.
Pain doesn't come on when sneezing or exercising or bending down . I also don't have headache if I just lay down on couch to watch tv. Just when waking up in the morning. I had a 30 min nap today, no headache when I woke up.
I take no medications and last year's blood test where normal. I am 53 year old woman.

I have no diagnosed brain tumor, I am just worried the morning headaches and blurry vision (after straining eyes) may be signs of brain tumor.
The blurry vision started around the time I started using magnifying loupes at work I am a dental hygienist so posture is chronically poor.
Answered by Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 2 hours later
Brief Answer:

Morning headaches can happen with tumors but not only them so a thorough examination and tests are needed to be sure- detailed explanation below

Detailed Answer:


Morning headaches or so-called headaches that wake the patient up from sleep might be caused by different causes but it is true as you have also mentioned. On the other hand, the tumour is one of the rare causes of headaches.

Blurry vision only when you strain your eyes is not necessarily a sign a tumour. If the blurriness goes on after or not related to that than it would be more abnormal.
There are other signs a tumour can cause generally neurological sings like numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty swallowing, generally it is not blurriness the major sign but double vision or dark (black) areas in the vision field, nausea and vomiting, vertigo (the sense of motion while you do not move), fainting, etc.

It is great you do not have pain with straining like exercise, cough, lowering your head.

To conclude I would say:

1. the blurriness happening only with eye-straining is not necessarily caused by a tumour, the strain itself causes blurriness for a vision that improves quickly after.

2. a morning headache is one of the signs that can happen with a head tumour but is not 100%, the presence of the above-mentioned symptoms would increase the chance of a tumour. The lack of worsening of a headache with exercise or a cough or putting your head down is a good sign also.

3. It is good you have set a meeting with your doctor, a thorough physical examination might be needed including neurological exam to check the functions of the nerves.

Also, your doctor might ask some blood tests like CBC (to rule out anaemia), creatinine and electrolytes (to check kidney function), ALT and AST (to check liver), TSH to check your thyroid, Glucose (to rule out diabetes) and lipids.

These are general tests that help us understand your health in general and some also to rule out some more common causes of a headache.

4. If your doctor is not totally convinced of the cause of a headache or finds neurological signs in examination he might also ask for an MRI of the head to rule out a tumour.

This is a test that does not have dangerous radiation and is very sensitive to diagnose if tumours are present.

5. So it seems you do not have any signs of a head tumour and very likely the headache is not related to it, but there is need to go on consultation to be examined and have the needed tests to rule it out completely and also do tests to find the real cause of it if it is not tumour and get treated appropriately.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana
Follow up: Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 9 hours later
Thanks for this answer, it helps.
I went to bed at 1030 and got up at 8 this morning with headache. I woke up several times with no headache until around 5 where headache was present. I went back to sleep. Now sitting up, pain seems to be more on back of head, worst when I turn my head left and right as if a neck muscle may be pulling and creating pain?

the vision blurriness happens more when I strain eyes, doesn't correct itself right away when done, takes a few minutes or more but it does correct itself. Never along with headaches. I wear newer corrective glasses. Would using loupes at work damage my eyes? I've never heard of this before.
Also, would you say that if the cause of headache and blurriness was related to a brain tumor, would these two symptoms happen together at same time?
Should the headache and blurriness at same time? There is no blurriness in the morning when I get up

Also, the headaches are not what wakes me up, I just wake up a lot. They just happen to be present. The pain is not bad, just concerning.
I should add that I've just been dx with PTSD and under a lot of stress lately.
Another question, would/could the headaches be related to my not consuming alcohol (blood sugar, withdrawal? ) in the last 5 weeks, given that I was drinking every day for several years?
Answered by Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 5 hours later
Brief Answer:

Please refer to the detailed answer below

Detailed Answer:


The vision blurriness is clearly caused by an outside of head cause as it is related to straining the eyes so it does not seem directly related to a headache or tumor.

The vision problems if related to a tumour would be more stable and not come and go, a person who has vision changes due to a tumour gets worse and worse with not much improvement.

A headache varies due to the variation in the pressure in the head that might be different when we lay and when we get up.

In case of a tumour it would be expected to be more stable vision changes (generally double vision or dark spots) and headache that might vary but in general, tends to get worse over time.

Alcohol withdrawal might cause a headache but generally no vision changes. It is expected the symptoms to be worse the first few days and than gradually improve, it should not be lasting for so long.

Stress might cause headaches and also if you have a problem with your bed or pillow also. The fact that the pain is not strong and does not wake you up but you wake up and feel it somehow more reassuring.

Using a loupe to read is not generally a cause of eye problems, but if you have the wrong eyeglasses this might cause the eyes to get tired easier and cause eye strain more often. Your GP can check your vision with the glasses and tell you if they are correct.

So, I would say it is crucial for every patient with a headache to do a thorough physical examination (including a neurological exam) to get a good understanding of the cause of it.

After that, the doctor will decide if there is a need for other examinations and tests (as mentioned previously) to rule out brain tumours or another diagnosis as the cause of a headache.

By what I gather from you it is less likely you have a brain tumour, there are many signs that are reassuring; still as explained you need to see your doctor to be absolutely sure.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Dr Zotaj Antoneta, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Arnab Banerjee

The User accepted the expert's answer

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