A person may describe eye pain as throbbing, stabbing, burning, sharp, dull or gritty pain. He may complain that he has a feeling of "something in the eye". Sometimes, people are not able to locate or find out the exact source of the pain. They may find it difficult to define; whether it is the pain in the eye or headache or sinus pain. Eyeball pain can be either ocular pain or orbital pain. Many times, eye pain and headache go hand in hand.
Ocular Pain Causes and Treatment
Ocular pain arises from the outer structures of the surface of the eye.
- Conjunctivitis: Pink eye or viral conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye problems. Mild pain, redness, drainage and itching are the main symptoms of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can be allergic, chemical or bacterial. 'Inflammation of the delicate lining or the membrane that covers the eye ball' is the main symptom of conjunctivitis. When suffering from conjunctivitis, you should not rub the eyes, should keep the eyes clean and should use the drops prescribed by your doctor. Do not share eye drops with other family members.
- Corneal Abrasions: Corneal abrasions or corneal ulcerations are said to occur when scratches on the surface of the cornea affect eye health seriously. Scratches may occur due to a foreign body in the eye or due to overuse of contact lenses. This can lead to constant pain in the eye and may result in blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, watery eyes, redness in the eye, etc. Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, use of eye drops or eye patches may be suggested. A tetanus vaccination or surgery may be recommended.
- Chemical Burns: During household cleaning or bleaching, if eyes are exposed to acidic or alkaline substances, chemical burns may occur. If eyes are not well protected, then flash burns can occur from intense light sources, such as arc welding or tanning booths. So one should take proper care of eyes while working with such instruments.
- Blepharitis: Due to a blocked oil gland situated at the eyelid edges, eyelids may get inflamed, causing pain in the eye. Blepharitis symptoms may vary from person to person. Warm and moist compresses on the eye help lower eyeball pain and irritation. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics, eye drops and ointments. If skin problem is causing blepharitis, then the treatment has to be focused on getting rid of that particular problem. To avoid recurrence, prolonged treatment may be required.
- Sty: Eye sty or chalazion is a lump within the eyelid, formed by a blocked oil gland and it can cause pain in the eyeball. The treatment includes home remedies and use of prescribed medicines.
Orbital Pain Causes and Treatment
Orbital pain originates from the deeper structures of the eye (it is felt behind the eyeball or in the eye). Following eye problems are mainly responsible for generating such pain.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when there is an increase in the intraocular or internal eye pressure. This can lead to diminished vision or even blindness when left untreated. Generally, glaucoma is painless but sometimes it can be painful. Mainly, older adults have this problem. Use of eye drops, laser treatment or surgery are some of the main options that are taken into consideration while treating glaucoma.
- Optic Neuritis: Inflammation of the optic nerve which is located at the back of the eye, can result in eyeball pain. Multiple sclerosis can lead to the inflammation of the optic nerve. Treatment for optic neuritis will depend upon the cause.
- Injuries: Any type of penetrating foreign object or blow during traumatic events like vehicle collisions can lead to severe pain in the eye. The doctor can plan the treatment after examining the nature of the injury.
- Iritis: Iritis is the inflammation of the iris (colored part of the eye) and it can cause deep eyeball pain. Blunt trauma, systemic diseases like sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis, infection like herpes, etc. can cause iritis. The doctor may prescribe mild painkillers, eye drops and other medications. One should wear dark eye-glasses to protect the eyes from bright light.
- Sinusitis: Bacterial or viral sinus infections can lead to pain in eye. You should take prescribed medications and should follow home remedies like gargling with warm salt water, to get rid of the infection soon.
- Migraines: Migraine can result in eyeball pain. Unbearable headache is the main symptom noticed in such cases. Generally, use of analgesics helps relieve eye pain caused by migraine or headaches.
Eyeball Pain Symptoms
If a person experiences eye pain, he may notice one or more symptoms from the following list. Type and severity of the pain can vary from person to person.
- Pain in or around the eye
- Colored circles or halos around lights
- Extreme light sensitivity
- Double vision
- Partial or complete loss of vision
- Sensation of flashes or streaks of light
- Difficulty in normal eye movement
- Strings, spots, cobwebs or shadows seen before the eyes
- Pain while moving the eye in different directions
- Severe headache
- Reddened conjunctiva (white of the eye)
- Swelling and / or redness of the surrounding eye tissue and / or of the eyelids
- Changed shape of the pupils
- Bulging eyes
- Redness that encircles the colored part of the eye (iris)
- Scratched cornea or eyeball
- Eye discharge, excessive tearing
- Crusting, difficulty in opening the eyelids, especially upon awakening
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.