Eye Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatments

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Eye pain is also called as ophthalmalgia. Itcan be divided into two categories on the basis of where you feel pain in the eye including ocular pain and orbital pain. When you experience pain on the surface of the eye then it is ocular pain and when you experience pain within the eye then it is orbital pain. It is a common problem and generally goes away without treatment or medicine. There can be various reasons for experiencing pain on the surface of the eye including infection, trauma, or irritation due to a foreign object. The pain that is on the surface of the eye feels like scratching, itching sensation, or burning. Generally, such type of eye pain gets resolved with rest or eye drops. On the other hand, the pain which is within the eye needs in-depth treatment. The pain which is within the eye feels gritty, aching, throbbing, or stabbing. If a person experiences this disease accompanied by a loss in the vision then it is a sign of a medical emergency. Such cases require immediate treatment, so you should visit an ophthalmologist.

Symptoms of Eye Pain:

If the eye pain is accompanied by vision loss then you should visit a doctor in an emergency. Check out various symptoms that require an immediate visit to a doctor for a check-up:

–  You have severe pain in the eye.

–  Due to an exposure to a light or chemical or trauma, you experience eye pain.

–  When this disease is accompanied by a pain in the abdomen and vomiting.

–  When the pain is so severe that you are not able to touch your eyes.

–  When you experience dramatic and sudden vision changes.

Causes of Eye Pain:

Both ocular pain and orbital pain have different causes. Check out the possible causes of ocular pain and orbital pain:

–  Ocular Pain:

–   You may have pain on the surface of the eye when something goes in your eye. It can include a tiny particle of dust, makeup, a foreign object in the eye, or a piece of an eyelash. It can cause redness, pain, watery eyes, and irritation.

–   Conjunctivitis or pink eye which is caused by an infection or allergy can lead to mild pain on the surface of the eye. This pain is accompanied by redness, discharge from the eye, and itchiness.

–   People who sleep with the contact lenses or do not clear their lenses nicely are more prone to eye pain due to infection or irritation.

–   A corneal abrasion is a common eye injury that can lead to eye pain. Due to this, you feel that you have something in your eye.

–   Injury, blepharitis and sty are some of the other cause of this disease.

–  Orbital pain:

– When the optic nerve gets inflamed then it can lead to eye pain which may be accompanied by a vision loss.

– Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when the pressure within the eyes increases. Some other symptoms that you may experience due to glaucoma are a headache, nausea, and vision loss.

– You may experience pain in one or both eyes due to an infection of sinuses that create a pressure behind the eyes.

–  Due to an inflammation in the iris, you can experience pain deep inside the eye. Though, it is not common.

–  Migraines and injury are the other causes of pain within the eye.

How is it diagnosed?

If you are experiencing severe pain in the eye and other symptoms that demand an immediate treatment then you must visit an eye doctor known as an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and may ask you about your medical history. Some of the important questions that your doctor may ask in order to diagnose:

–  When is the eye pain started?

–  What is the location of this disease?

–  What is the intensity of eye pain?

–  What is the duration of eye pain?

–  What are the characteristics of this disease?

–  Is there anything that makes your eye pain worse or better?

–  What were you doing when you first experienced the symptoms?

–  From when are you using the contact lenses?

–  Have you faced any eye injury?

–  Have you undergone an eye surgery?

In the physical examination, your doctor checks your vision, does a visual inspection of your eye and tissue surrounding eye, examines movements of the eye, checks the reaction of your pupil to the light, and examine peripheral vision or visual fields. Your doctor may use some instruments to have a better look at the inside structures of the eye. An ophthalmoscope is a tool used to examine the back of your eye and to see the blood vessels and optic disc. Your doctor may use a slit lamp to see the surface of your eye in detail and closely to determine for possible ulcerations and corneal abrasions. A slit lamp is also used to see into the anterior chamber. The pressure in the eye can be checked with the help of a tonometer on the slit lamp or a device called as a Tono-pen. If your doctor suspects that you have glaucoma then these two instruments are used. Your doctor may put an anaesthetic drop into your eye for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes.  It is done to know whether the pain is coming from the surface of the eye or from within the eyes. In order to detect abrasions, any corneal defect, or ulceration, your doctor may put a dye into your eyes known as fluorescein. Your doctor will use blue light in conjunction with the dye called fluorescein to check for abrasions, any corneal defect, or ulceration.


You can definitely prevent eye pain by protecting your eyes. Check out various ways that will help you to get prevention from eye pain:

–  Burns and scratches can lead to eye pain. In order to prevent yourself from burns and scratches, you should wear safety glasses or goggles when exercising, using hand tools, mowing the lawn, playing sports.

–  People who do welding work, work in construction and work around flying objects, welding gears, or chemicals should wear eye gear for protection.

–  You should not give those toys to your kids which can injure their eyes. The toys which can injure their eyes are shooting toys, toy swords, bouncing balls, spring-loaded components, and guns.

–  You should wear contact lenses overnight or for long hours. You should disinfect them properly and routinely. It is important that your eyes get rest so sometimes you should wear glasses.

–  You should use potent agents and direct chemicals with care including pest control, detergents, and household cleaners. You should keep your body especially eyes away when using them.

Treatment for Eye Pain:

Check out the various treatment options for different problems:

– Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis is generally treated with antibiotic eyedrops, pain medicines, and eye ointment. Both viral conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis are treated in a similar way as it is not easy to tell the difference between viral and bacterial infections. Antihistamines are used in case of allergic conjunctivitis in the form of drops without or with oral agents including non-sedating antihistamines or diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

– Foreign object in the eye: Foreign object can be removed from the eye by using different techniques including removal with a tiny needle, removal with an ophthalmologic drill, removal with a cotton tip applicator, or removal with eyewash. Once the foreign object is removed some people may have a rust ring or an abrasion which is treated separately.

– Blepharitis: In blepharitis, the eyelid inflames. It can be treated by using a mild shampoo such as baby shampoo on a washcloth that is soft twice a day in order to remove excess oil.

– Ulcerations and corneal abrasions : These problems are treated with the help of antibiotic eye drops, medicines for pain, and eye ointment.

– Corneal flash burns and chemical eye burns : Corneal flash burns are treated in the same way as small abrasions are treated. The treatment options available for flash burns are eye ointment, pain medication, and antibiotic eye drops. Chemical eye burns should be treated immediately with the help of anaesthetic eye drops and a lot of water to wash out the eye till the time eye reaches the normal levels of alkali or acid. The level of alkali or acid is checked with the help of a special paper known as pH paper. Once you have washed your eye thoroughly and pH is normal, you should visit an ophthalmologist for further treatment as per the extent of a chemical eye burn.

– Iritis: It can be treated with the help of eye drops due to which the pupils get bigger. Topical steroid eyedrops can also be used. If your case is severe, you can use oral steroids or other anti-inflammatory agents.

– Sinusitis: The condition of sinusitis can be treated with the help of antibiotics.

– Migraines: If you have eye pain due to a migraine and headaches then you can have over-the-counter medications including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin). You can also have prescribed migraine medicines.


Check out some of the complications associated with eye pain:

–  Some people may experience severe pain due to which they are not even able to touch their eyes.

–  Sometimes, eye pain is accompanied by vomiting and abdominal pain.

–  In some cases, people may experience dramatic and sudden vision changes.


Check out the most common myth about eye pain:

Myth #1: You are not required to visit a doctor until you have eye pain or a vision problem.

It is a myth that you are not required to visit a doctor until you have eye pain or a vision problem. Every person should get their eye checked regularly. It helps you to wear correct power eyeglasses. You should take proper care of your eyes in order to avoid this disease or a vision problem.


Eye pain is also known as ophthalmalgia. This disease can be divided into two categories including ocular pain and orbital pain. In ocular pain, people have pain on the surface of the eye. On the other hand, in orbital pain people have pain within the eye. Conjunctivitis, foreign object in the eye, glaucoma, and iritis are some of the possible causes of eye pain. People should reach out to the ophthalmologist if they experience severe pain. The treatment option varies depending on the cause of eye pain, the extent of eye pain and other factors. It is important that you get a regular examination done of your eyes to avoid vision problem or eye pain. The complications of eye pain include dramatic and sudden vision changes, vomiting, a pain in the abdomen, and severe pain that it becomes too hard to touch the eye. People have a lot of myths about eye pain. You are not required to visit a doctor until you have eye pain or a vision problem is the most common myth.


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