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Eye Pain

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What causes eye pain?

Eye pain may be caused by a problem within your eye. A problem or condition in another body area can also cause pain that travels to your eye. Eye pain may be caused by any of the following:

  • Dry eyes
  • An abrasion on your cornea (the surface of your eye)
  • A foreign body in your eye
  • Inflammation of a nerve, gland, or muscle in your eye
  • Certain types of glaucoma (increased pressure inside your eye that can cause vision loss)
  • A sinus infection or jaw pain
  • Headaches, including migraine or cluster headaches

How is the cause of eye pain diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your eyes and ask when your pain began. He or she will also ask if you have other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light. Tell him or her if you ever had eye surgery or an eye injury. Tell him or her if you wear glasses or contact lenses. Also tell him or her the names of medicines you take, and if you have allergies or health conditions. You may need the following tests:

  • A visual acuity test checks your vision in both eyes. You will be asked to read letters and numbers from a chart.
  • A slit-lamp exam uses a microscope to check every part of your eye for inflammation or injury. A dye may be used to look for damage to your cornea.

  • A fluorescein stain test uses dye to show if you have a foreign body in your eye. It can also reveal damage to your cornea.
  • A tonometry test measures the pressure inside your eye to check for glaucoma. Your provider will numb your eyes with eyedrops before he or she checks your eye pressure.

How is eye pain treated?

  • Artificial tears are eyedrops that can help moisturize your eyes and relieve your pain. Ask your provider how often to use artificial tears.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • Your eye pain gets worse when you move your eyes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have any vision loss.
  • You have sudden vision changes such as blurred vision, double vision, or seeing halos around lights.
  • You develop severe eye pain.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.