If your eyes are feeling itchy or painful, you might assume you have pink eye or dry eye syndrome, two common eye conditions that can cause discomfort. While these conditions indeed cause eye pain and discomfort, many other conditions exist that can cause the same symptoms.
To help you better understand your eye health, your trusted Lorton, VA, optometrist at Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist shares the top 15 conditions that typically cause eye pain and discomfort.
Understanding Your Eye Pain: Where And How Much Does It Hurt?
Before we get to the conditions that commonly cause eye pain and discomfort, let us first take a closer look at what kind of pain you might be feeling right now.
Eye pain can be unilateral or bilateral. Unilateral refers to discomfort in one eye, while bilateral pain affects both eyes. Eye pain can also vary in severity or intensity. Here are some different types of eye pain:
A feeling like there’s something “in” your eye
A dull ache
A burning sensation
A sharp, stabbing pain
The severity of eye pain does not exactly indicate the severity of the underlying condition. In some cases, such as a direct eye injury, it is easy to detect the cause of the pain. In other cases, more comprehensive exams and tests are needed to diagnose the condition causing your symptoms.
Eye Health Problems and Conditions That Commonly Cause Eye Pain and Discomfort
Pinpointing where the pain originates can help determine the underlying cause. Eye pain can occur on or in the eye, behind the eye or around the eye. During your appointment, your eye doctor in Lorton, VA, will ask you to describe the pain and discomfort you’re feeling and where you feel it, so try to be as descriptive as possible.
Below are the top 15 conditions that cause eye pain and the location of the pain that they cause.
1. Corneal Foreign Body | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
The feeling that something is stuck in your eye is often due to the fact that something is indeed stuck in your eye. Foreign bodies, such as sawdust and metal shavings, can irritate your eyes. If not promptly treated, they can lead to infection.
2. Corneal Abrasion | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
Also known as scratched cornea, this typically heals on its own within 24 hours. However, deeper abrasions or scratches may lead to infection and corneal ulcer if left untreated.
3. Dry Eyes | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
This is a very common cause of eye discomfort. Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes are unable to produce sufficient tears to remain adequately moisturized. The condition typically progresses rather slowly and you may not feel eye pain and discomfort right away. However, it can lead to corneal abrasion.
4. Conjunctivitis | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
Also known as pink eye, this is the swelling or infection of the eyeball’s outer membrane, the conjunctiva. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, giving your eyes a pink or red color. Other symptoms associated with conjunctivitis include watery or thick eye discharge, itchiness and gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes.
5. Keratitis | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
This is also another form of infection that affects the cornea. It is often caused by bacteria, a virus or a parasite. If you wear contact lenses, you are susceptible to developing keratitis.
6. Iritis | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
This is the inflammation of the iris, the colored ring around your pupils. Aside from eye discomfort, other symptoms include redness, sensitivity to light and decreased vision. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to glaucoma or vision loss.
7. Contact Lens Discomfort | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
Improper contact lens alignment, prolonged wear and allergies can all lead to contact lens discomfort and, eventually, eye pain. This may also cause eye abrasions and infections if not properly managed.
8. Endophthalmitis | Location of Pain: On or in the Eye
This pertains to the inflammation of the eye’s interior. It can be a complication of eye surgeries, including cataract surgery. It is often caused by a bacterial infection and must be treated immediately.
9. Migraine | Location of Pain: Behind the Eye
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Many of us know that a migraine is a type of recurring headache. However, it can also cause eye pain and even vision problems. The pain can be typically felt behind one eye. By treating migraine, the eye pain will probably also be resolved.
10. Sinus Infections and Allergies | Location of Pain: Behind the Eye
Sinusitis is the term used for the inflammation of the sinuses. The inflammation puts extra pressure behind the eye, causing pain. The sinus infection must be treated to alleviate the eye pressure and pain. Allergic rhinitis also causes similar symptoms.
11. Stye | Location of Pain: Around the Eye
Styes can affect people of any age, although they are more common among children. This is the inflammation of the eyelid. Although it may not require urgent care, it can be very uncomfortable and the pain varies in severity.
12. Blepharitis | Location of Pain: Around the Eye
Another condition that causes eyelid swelling and discomfort around the eyes, this basically refers to eyelid inflammation. It is often caused by bacteria, parasites and other eye conditions including dry eyes.
13. Computer Eye Strain | Location of Pain: Around the Eye
Eye muscle pain can be caused by overuse, especially when working at your computer for long hours. While not overly serious, prolonged computer eye strain may lead to other complications.
14. Optic Neuropathy | Location of Pain: Around the Eye
A much less common condition that causes pain around the eye is optic neuropathy. This is a serious condition that can lead to vision loss. Aside from eye pain, it can also cause decreased visual acuity.
15. Eye Injury or Trauma | In and Around the Eye
This refers to damage caused by a direct hit or blow to the eye. The trauma can affect not only the eye, but the surrounding tissue and bone structure as well.
What to Do When You Feel Eye Pain and Discomfort?
If you experience eye pain that does not go away after resting or keeps recurring, it is best to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor or optometrist in Newington, VA. The only way to know what exactly is causing your symptoms is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam. While it’s smart to educate yourself on various eye conditions, avoid the temptation to self-diagnose. Your eye doctor will be able to properly diagnose your condition and provide the right treatment. Self-diagnosis and treatment may lead to more serious problems.
If you experience eye pain or discomfort, don’t take any chances. See a trusted and certified eye doctor in your area as soon as possible to identify the underlying cause and receive the right treatment.