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12 Causes and treatments for eye pain

Eye pain is a result of changes in the ocular surface or in the more internal regions of the eye. Besides eye pain, people may have other symptoms such as itching and burning sensation, that may be due to problems such as conjunctivitis or sinusitis, for example.

In general, when you feel your eyes are tired, it is a symptom that goes away after a few hours or after resting, but if the pain is strong or persistent, or if it is accompanied by difficulty in seeing, you should seek an ophthalmologist so he can evaluate the cause of the problem.

Eye pain after a blow, a spike or after an animal's attack with sharp nails can cause a scratch on the cornea and in this case there is intense pain in the affected eye, constant tearing and difficulty opening the eyes.


Eye pain usually is followed by a burning sensation and throbbing pain, with a sense of being pinched in or around the eye or as if there were some strange object in the eyeball,

12 Causes and treatments for eye pain

Besides this, there may be other specific symptoms, like:

  • Pain while moving the eyes: it may be a sign of dirt in the eye or tired vision;
  • Pain behind the eyes: it may be dengue, sinusitis or neuritis;
  • Eye pain and headache: may indicate vision problems or the flu;
  • Pain and redness: is a symptom of eye inflammation, like conjunctivitis;
  • Pain while blinking: it may be a symptom of a stye or speckle in the eye;
  • Eye pain and on the forehead: appears frequently in cases of migraines.

These symptoms may appear in the left or right eye, or in both at the same time.

Common causes for eye pain

The most common causes for eye pain are:

1. Keratitis

It is an inflammation in the cornea that can be infectious or not. May be caused by viruses, fungi, microbacteria or bacteria, misuse of contact lenses, wounds or strokes in the eye, causing pain, decreased vision, sensitivity to light and excessive eye tearing.

  • Treatment: Keratitis has a cure, but treatment should be started as soon as possible, as the disease can spread quickly and can cause blindness.

2. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation on the inner surface of the eyelids and the white part of the eye, causing redness, secretion and swelling in the eyes. It can be caused most commonly by viruses or bacteria, being easily transmitted to other people, or it may be due to some allergy or reaction to an irritating object that came in contact with the eye.

  • Treatment: It can be done with the use of analgesic remedies, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics, in case of bacterial conjunctivitis

3. Misuse of contact lenses

Improper use of contact lenses can cause inflammation and eye infections that lead to pain, redness and itching, as well as more serious problems such as ulcers or keratitis.

  • Treatment: The lenses should be used according to hygiene recommendations, maximum use time and the shelf-life of the product.

4. Dry eyes

The eyes become dry due to several reasons that alter the quality of the tear, responsible for lubricating the eyeball. This problem causes prickling and burning sensation, especially in air-conditioned environments, while cycling or after spending a few hours looking at the computer screen.

  • Treatment: Eye drops should be used to aid lubrication of the eyeball. The use of eye drops that reduce redness can be used, but do not treat the cause. In addition, if used indiscriminately and without guidance from the ophthalmologist can mask other vision problems and delay the diagnosis of a more serious problem.
12 Causes and treatments for eye pain

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that can be caused by various factors, but its main risk factor is increased pressure in the eyeball, which leads to damage to the optic nerve and progressive decrease of vision, if not diagnosed and treated early. As a slow progressive disease, in more than 95% of the cases there are no symptoms or signs of the disease until vision diminishes. At that moment the person already presents an extremely advanced disease. Therefore, routine consultation with the ophthalmologist is essential to eye health.

  • Treatment: Although it has no definitive cure, proper treatment of glaucoma allows the control of symptoms and prevents blindness.

6. Flu

The presence of infections in the body like flu and dengue can cause symptoms of headache and eye pain, which decrease as the body fights the disease.

  • Treatment: You can use strategies such as drinking calming and circulation enhancing teas, such as ginger, fennel and lavender, putting patches of warm water on your forehead, using medicines like paracetamol, and staying in a quiet, low-light setting.
12 Causes and treatments for eye pain

7. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses and usually causes a headache and also causes pain behind the eyes and nose. In addition, the patient may have other symptoms not related to sinusitis, such as sore throat and difficulty breathing, especially if it is viral.

  • Treatment: It can be done with medicines applied directly on the nose or with antibiotic and anti-flu medications.

8. Dengue 

The pain in the back of the eyes, accompanied by symptoms such as tiredness and pain in the body may indicate dengue, which is common especially in summer.

  • Treatment: There is no need for specific treatment and can be done with painkillers and medicines to lower the fever. See all the symptoms of dengue to confirm you are infected.

9. Migraine

Migraine causes severe headache, especially affecting only one side of the face, and sometimes there are symptoms such as dizziness and light sensitivity, needing to wear sunglasses to feel better. In the case of cluster headache pain affects the forehead and only one eye, with intense pain, in addition to tearing and runny nose. In the case of migraine with aura, besides the pain in the eyes, flashing lights may appear.

10. Optic neuritis 

It manifests itself through symptoms such as pain when moving the eyes, which can affect only one or both eyes, as well as sudden decrease or loss of vision, and changes in the color test. The pain can be moderate or severe and it tends to get worse when the eye is palpated. It can occur in people who have multiple sclerosis, but can also happen in cases of tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, syphilis, AIDS, childhood viruses such as mumps, chickenpox and measles, and others such as Lyme disease, cat scratch disease, and herpes, for example.

  • Treatment: Depending on the cause, it can be done by taking corticosteroids, for example.

11. Diabetic eye neuropathy 

In this case it is an ischemic neuropathy which is the lack of irrigation of the optic nerve and does not cause pain. This is a consequence in diabetics who have not kept their blood glucose properly controlled most of the time.

  • Treatment: In addition to controlling diabetes, surgery or laser treatments may be needed.

12. Trigeminal Neuralgia

It causes pain in the eyes, but usually only one eye is affected, abrupt and intense, similar to the sensation of electric shock, besides intense pain in the face. The pain lasts for a few seconds to two minutes, happening soon after, at intervals of a few minutes to the hour, and can occur several times a day. Often the picture goes on for months, even with proper treatment.

  • Treatment: The treatment is done with medication or surgery

When to go to the doctor

One should seek medical help when eye pain is intense or lasts for more than 2 days, if you have decreased vision, autoimmune diseases or rheumatoid arthritis, or when in addition to pain, also appear symptoms of redness, tearing, feeling of pressure in the eyes and swelling.

In addition, while staying at home it is important to avoid places with too much light, computer use and the use of contact lenses to decrease eye irritation and the chances of complications.

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