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Eye Pain

Symptoms, Causes, Related Conditions, Questions & Related Topics

Top 5 Causes of Eye Pain

1. Foreign Item

Plenty of things can cause eye pain, and it’s not uncommon for the culprit to be a foreign item lodged in the eye.[1] It might be dirt, makeup, an eyelash, or a contact lens that has gotten dry. These items can irritate the eye and make it water or become red. However, it can usually be remedied by taking out the object and rinsing the eye with solution. Hitting the eye with a foreign object can also cause pain, just like any other injury.

2. Eyestrain

If you sit at a computer all day, you might experience eyestrain, which can sometimes make your eyes tired and can even make them hurt.[2] If this is the case for you, rest and relaxation should help. Try closing your eyes for a while and just letting them rest. If you experience eyestrain while at work, try looking away from the computer for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes that you must focus on it.

3. Dry Eyes

All eyes get dry from time to time, even if you don’t wear contacts or stare at a computer. This can cause your eyes to feel pained, especially when you blink. A good idea is to use some solution meant to soothe eyes in order to minimize pain, dryness, and redness. Usually, dry eye is an issue that can be quickly remedied.

4. Headaches

Some people get headaches right behind their eyes that can be very painful. If this happens to you, it’s a good idea to take some over-the-counter painkillers in order to help your headache subside. If you get headaches extremely often, it could be a symptom of a larger issue. Migraines are very painful headaches that can even cause ocular hallucinations such as shimmering lights and temporarily blurry vision.[3]

5. Flu

Have you ever had the flu and experienced pain or tenderness in or behind your eyes? This is common because your sinuses often become inflamed and congested when you get the flu. Other signs of the flu are body aches, fatigue, sneezing, and coughing. You may need a doctor’s help if you become dehydrated as a result of the flu, so try to stay hydrated to avoid more dire circumstances.

Possible Health Conditions Related to Eye Pain

1. Eye Infection

One common cause of eye pain is an eye infection introduced by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Two of the most common types of eye infections are styes and conjunctivitis.[4] A stye is a bump that occurs in or on the eyelid that makes moving, closing, and opening your eyes painful. Conjunctivitis is the medical term for pink eye, which often occurs in children. Both of these issues might clear up in time or require antibiotics if they worsen. Other signs of an eye infection include discharge coming from the eye, swelling of the eye, itchiness, and redness.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve becomes damaged as a result of diseases, fluid pressure and buildup, or hypertension. A person can become blind if glaucoma is not caught early and treated.[5] Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma, does not usually cause pain and is difficult to detect, but angle-closure glaucoma, which occurs when fluid cannot drain from the eye and causes an increase in pressure on the eye, can cause severe pain as well as vomiting, redness in the eye, and blurred vision.

3. Uveitis

Uveitis is the term for a number of inflammatory diseases that cause swelling and pain in the eye. Many different issues can cause uveitis, such as an injury or bruise on the eye, infection, or toxins in the eye.[6] Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, impaired vision, and an increased sensation of floaters or flecks that you can see in your eyes when the vitreous fluid in your eyes begins to shrink.[7] Treatment might require eye drops, or, in severe cases, intensive medicines such as steroids.

4. Corneal Abrasion

If you injure your eye, there is a possibility that you could have sustained a corneal abrasion, or a scratch on your cornea.[8] Sometimes, a corneal scratch can heal on its own. Deep scratches, however, can leave scars on the cornea, affecting your vision. It is important to see an eye doctor if you believe you might have scratched your cornea.

5. Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the eye that can cause the optic nerve to sustain severe damage. Optic neuritis can cause intense pain, and in some cases, even temporary loss of vision.[9] Often, this issue is connected to multiple sclerosis, or MS, which causes a similar type of inflammation in the brain. It is important to go to the doctor if you think you have optic neuritis because this can often be the first sign of MS. Other diseases, like lupus, can also be linked to optic neuritis.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Eye Pain

  • How long have you been dealing with eye pain?
  • Do you feel pain in both eyes or just one?
  • Is there anything that can cause the pain to worsen?
  • Have you experienced any loss of vision or other symptoms?
  • Do you work on a computer?
  • Do you wear contact lenses?
  • Did you injure your eye at all recently?

Eye Pain May Also Be Known as

  • Pain in the eye
  • Ocular pain
  • Eye discomfort


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