Eye pain

Definition

Pain in the eye may be described as a burning, throbbing, aching, or stabbing sensation in or around the eye. It may also feel like you have a foreign object in your eye.

This article discusses eye pain that is not caused by injury or surgery.

Considerations

Pain in the eye can be an important symptom of a health problem. Make sure you tell your health care provider if you have eye pain that does not go away.

Tired eyes or some eye discomfort (eyestrain) is most often a minor problem and it will often go away with rest. These problems may be caused by the wrong eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Sometimes they are due to a problem with the eye muscles.

Causes

Many things can cause pain in or around the eye. If the pain is severe, does not go away, or causes vision loss, seek medical attention immediately.

Some things that can cause eye pain are:

Home Care

Resting your eyes can often relieve discomfort due to eye strain.

If you wear contacts, try using glasses for a few days to see if the pain goes away.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will check your vision, eye movements, and the back of your eye. If there is a major concern, you should see an ophthalmologist. This is a doctor who specializes in eye problems.

To help find the source of the problem, your provider may ask:

The following eye tests may be done:

If the pain seems to come from the surface of the eye, such as with a foreign body, the provider may put anesthetic drops in your eyes. If the pain goes away, that will often confirm the surface as the source of the pain.


Review Date: 11/4/2015
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.