Eye Pain: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Eye pain is common, but it’s rarely a symptom of a major condition. Most often, the pain fixes without medicine or treatment. Eye pain is also called ophthalmalgia. Depending on where you experience the pain, eye pain can fall into one of two categories: Ocular pain happens on the eye’s surface area, and orbital pain occurs within the eye.

Eye pain that takes place on the surface might be a scratching, burning, or itching experience. Surface area pain is typically brought on by irritation from a foreign object, infection, or injury. Typically, this kind of eye pain is easily treated with eye drops or rest.

Eye pain that takes place much deeper within the eye may feel aching, gritty, stabbing, or throbbing. This kind of eye pain might require more extensive treatment.

Eye pain accompanied by vision loss may be a symptom of an emergency situation medical problem. Call your eye doctor immediately if you start to lose your vision while experiencing eye pain.

What Causes Ocular Pain?

The following may trigger eye pain that stems on the surface of the eye:

Foreign Object

The most typical cause of eye pain is merely having something in your eye. Whether it’s an eyelash, a piece of dirt, or makeup, having a foreign object in the eye can cause irritation, soreness, watery eyes, and pain.


The conjunctiva is the tissue that lines the front of the eye and the underside of the eyelid. It can become infected and inflamed. Frequently, this is brought on by an allergic reaction or infection.

Though the pain is typically moderate, the inflammation causes itchiness, inflammation, and discharge in the eye. Conjunctivitis is also called pink eye.

Contact Lens Irritation

People who wear contact lenses over night or don’t decontaminate their lenses properly are more prone to eye pain triggered by irritation or infection.

Corneal Abrasion

The cornea, the clear surface area that covers the eye, is vulnerable to injuries. When you have a corneal abrasion, you will feel as if you have something in your eye.

However, treatments that usually get rid of irritants from an eye, such as flushing with water, will not reduce the pain and pain if you have a corneal abrasion.


Chemical burns and flash burns to the eye can trigger significant pain. These burns are frequently the result of direct exposure to irritants such as bleach or to extreme source of lights, such as the sun, tanning cubicles, or the products utilized in arc welding.


Blepharitis takes place when oil glands on the eyelid’s edge become contaminated or swollen. This can cause pain.


A blepharitis infection can produce a nodule or raised bump on the eyelid. This is called a sty or a chalazion. A sty can be extremely unpleasant, and the location around the sty is normally extremely tender and sensitive to touch. A chalazion isn’t typically uncomfortable.

What Triggers Orbital Pain?

Eye pain felt within the eye itself may be brought on by the following conditions:


This condition takes place as intraocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye, increases. Additional signs caused by glaucoma consist of nausea, headache, and loss of vision.

An unexpected increase in pressure, called intense angle closure glaucoma, is an emergency situation, and instant treatment is needed to prevent permanent vision loss.

Optic Neuritis

You might experience eye pain accompanied by a loss of vision if the nerve that connects the back of the eyeball to the brain, referred to as the optic nerve, ends up being inflamed. An autoimmune illness or a bacterial or viral infection might cause the inflammation.


An infection of the sinuses can trigger pressure behind the eyes to construct. As it does, it can develop pain in one or both eyes.


Eye pain is a typical side effect of migraine attacks.


Permeating injuries to the eye, which can occur when a person is hit with an object or is involved in an accident, can cause significant eye pain.


While unusual, swelling in the iris can trigger pain deep inside the eye.

When Is Eye Pain an Emergency?

If you start experiencing vision loss in addition to eye pain, this may be a sign of an emergency circumstance. Other signs that require immediate medical attention consist of:

  • serious eye pain
  • eye pain brought on by injury or direct exposure to a chemical or light
  • abdominal pain and vomiting that accompanies eye pain
  • pain so extreme it’s difficult to touch the eye
  • abrupt and dramatic vision changes

How Is Eye Pain Treated?

The treatment for eye pain depends upon the reason for the pain. The most common treatments consist of:

Home Care

The best method to treat many of the conditions that cause eye pain is to permit your eyes to rest. Staring at a computer screen or tv can cause eyestrain, so your doctor might require you to rest with your eyes covered for a day or more.


If you often wear contact lenses, give your corneas time to heal by wearing your glasses.

Warm Compress

Doctors might advise people with blepharitis or a sty to use warm, moist towels to their eyes. This will help to clear the clogged up oil gland or hair follicle.


If a foreign body or chemical enters into your eye, flush your eye with water or a saline solution to clean the irritant out.


Antibacterial drops and oral antibiotics may be used to treat infections of the eye that are causing pain, including conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions.


Eye drops and oral medicines can help reduce the pain associated with allergic reactions in the eyes.

Eye drops

People with glaucoma might utilize medicated eye drops to decrease the pressure building in their eyes.


For more serious infections, such as optic neuritis and anterior uveitis (iritis), your doctor might offer you corticosteroids.

Pain Medications

If the pain is serious and triggers an interruption to your everyday life, your doctor might recommend a pain medicine to help alleviate the pain up until the underlying condition is treated.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is in some cases needed to repair damage done by a foreign body or burn. However, this is unusual. Individuals with glaucoma might need to have a laser treatment to improve drainage in the eye.

What Happens If Eye Pain isn’t Treated?

A lot of eye pain will fade with no or mild treatment. Eye pain and the hidden conditions that trigger it seldom cause permanent damage to the eye.

Nevertheless, that’s not always the case. Some conditions that cause eye pain may likewise trigger problems that are more severe if they aren’t treated.

For instance, the pain and signs triggered by glaucoma signify an upcoming problem. If not identified and treated, glaucoma can trigger vision issues and ultimately total blindness.

Your vision is nothing to gamble on. If you begin to experience eye pain that isn’t triggered by something like an eyelash in the eye, make an appointment to see your eye doctor as soon as possible.

How Can You Prevent Eye Pain?

Eye pain avoidance begins with eye protection. The following are ways you can avoid eye pain:

Wear Protective Eyewear

Prevent many reasons for eye pain, such as scratches and burns, by wearing goggles or safety glasses when playing sports, exercising, mowing the lawn, or working with hand tools.

Building workers, welders, and individuals who work around flying objects, chemicals, or welding gear ought to always wear protective eye gear.

Handle Chemicals With Caution

Direct chemicals and powerful agents such as household cleaners, cleaning agents, and pest control. Spray away from your body when using them.

Exercise Caution with Children’s Toys

Avoid giving your kid a toy that can hurt their eyes. Toys with spring-loaded elements, toys that shoot, and toy swords, guns, and bouncing balls can all hurt a child’s eye.

Contact Lens Hygiene

Tidy your contacts thoroughly and regularly. Wear your glasses on occasion to enable your eyes time to rest. Don’t wear contacts longer than they are intended to be worn or used.

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