Table of Contents
Eye Pain Definition
Eye Pain – sensations discomfort involving the eye and its supporting structures. Pain may vary from scratchy irritation to intense and debilitating pain. Much eye pain in the form of burning and itching arises from minor and treatable causes that affect the structures around the eye rather than the eye itself.
Eye pain that is throbbing, stabbing, deep, or accompanies visual disturbances may suggest conditions such as glaucoma.
Causes of Eye Pain
|Common Causes of Eye Pain|
|Quality of Pain||Possible Causes||Medical Attention Required|
|itchy or scratchy sensation||dry eye syndrome, allergic conjunctivitis, |
dirty contact lenses, eye strain
|self-care such as artificial tears or antihistamine medications; timely doctor’s assessment if symptoms persist after self-care efforts to relieve them|
|burning and photophobia, may include discharge||conjunctivitis, hordeolum, chalazion, |
blepharitis, keratitis, dacrycystitis, entropion
|prompt doctor’s assessment; infections require antibiotic medications|
|burning, photophobia, excessive tearing, visible blisters on surface of the eye||Bulbous keratopathy, cicatricial pemphigoid,|
|immediate medical attention|
|sharp, deep, or intense pain that may increase with, or prevent, eye movement||orbital cellulitis, trauma to eye, glaucoma, |
optic neuritis, chemical or flash BURNS
Eye pain that is sudden and severe, accompanies partial or complete loss of vision, prevents movement of the eye, or follows trauma to the eye or face requires emergency medical attention. When there is the possibility of penetrating eye injury, loosely patch both eyes to minimize movement.
Eye pain diagnostic path
The diagnostic path begins with careful examination of both eyes, which may include ophthalmoscopy, fluorescein stainingwhen the doctor suspects corneal injury, tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eye, and slit lamp examination for further assessment of the retina and other structures of the inner eye.
The doctor may place an anesthetic medication (numbing eye drops) in the eye to determine whether the pain is coming from the surface of the eye, in which case the pain will go away, or from within the eye, in which case the pain will persist. Often the doctor will also conduct basic tests of visual acuity such as a snellen chart reading.
People who wear contact lenses should remove them at the first sign of discomfort.
Treatment for eye pain targets the underlying cause. Most minor causes resolve without complications or permanent vision impairment. Causes such as severe corneal injury (BURNS, lacerations), glaucoma, and orbital cellulitis seriously threaten vision and can result in permanent and complete vision loss without urgent and appropriate treatment.
See also RETINAL DETACHMENT.
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