Eye pain: What is it?

Eye pain: What is it?

Eye pain is common and very rarely poses a serious problem. Photo: Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

What is it?

Eye pain can appear on the surface of the eye or on the inner part of the eye and can have different symptoms, such as stinging, burning pain, even as small bumps or foreign body sensation in the eye.

Eye pain is common and rarely a serious problem. Eye pain on the surface of the eye is usually caused by trauma, infection or a foreign body. When the pain is concentrated in the inner part of the eyes, it is usually more annoying and painful.


When should I go to the emergency room?

Pain in the eyes is not usually a symptom of serious pathology. However, if the pain does not subside, then a visit to the emergency room is a must.

It is also advisable to go to the emergency room if the eye pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of vision, halos around lights, if you cannot move your eye or if you have nausea, high temperature, chills, muscle aches, etc.

If the pain follows a trauma, we also recommend a visit to the emergency room to rule out any internal or external problem due to the blow.

entrada de urgencias ICR

Emergency room entrance. Photo: J. Casanova / ICR


What can I do in the meantime?

  • Don’t wear contact lenses, wear glasses.
  • If you wear lenses, take them out.

Some causes of eye pain

CONJUNCTIVITIS: Inflammation of the conjunctiva may cause pain, which is usually in the form of a foreign body sensation.

FOREIGN BODY: An eyelash, sand, dust, small particles… These are some of the main causes of eye pain.

EYE ABRASION: On many occasions, foreign bodies damage the cornea and create an ocular abrasion. Most of them are minor injuries.

CONTACT LENSES: A bad use of contact lenses (not keeping them properly cleaned with the right products or wearing them for longer than prescribed) may result in eye pain.

LACK OF SLEEP: Lack of sleep can lead to eye pain. It is also important that this sleep is restful and of good quality to reduce body tension and reduce the chances of suffering from eye pain.

MIGRAINE: One of the symptoms that people with migraines may suffer from is a pain focused in the head and in the eye area.

MIGRAINE WITH AURA: Some people, either occasionally or periodically, suffer from what is known as migraine with aura. Sometimes it is an alteration in vision in the form of blurred vision, visions of zigzag lines, flashing lights, blind spots, eye pain … that are called aura. After these first symptoms is when the headache appears.

ORBITAL CELLULITIS: It is an infection of the area around the eye, in muscles and fat. It is not very common and one of the symptoms that help to detect it is to suffer pain when trying to move the eye and to have vision problems. At certain ages it can become dangerous, especially in children, so it is important to be under medical control. The origin is always an internal infection that has spread.


More information

Dolor ocular. Manual MSD

Dolor detrás del ojo. American Academy of Ophthalmology

Dolor alrededor del ojo. American Academy of Ophthalmology

¿Qué es la migraña? American Academy of Ophthalmology

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