When talking about body pain, a lot of people would often think of the most common trouble spots—the back, shoulders, arms and knees. Sure enough, this is understandable, as millions of Americans suffer with persistent pain in these vital areas. What others don’t realize, though, is that pain can encompass a seemingly unlimited range and can strike virtually any part of the human body, such as the eyes, which can experience bouts of pain that are as perplex as they are intense. The solution for treating eye pain is usually the same for curing pain in other parts of the body: determine and attack the underlying culprit.
What makes eye pain so frustrating is that it can be linked to different eye diseases and conditions. Eye pain can fall into one of these two categories: ocular pain (occurs on the surface of the eye) and orbital pain (occurs within the eye). While eye pain isn’t really rare, it can be a symptom of a severe eye condition. Often times, the pain gets healed on its own, without the need for medicines and treatment options. If the pain persists, however, it’s a must to schedule an eye exam with your trusted eye doctor in Lorton, VA, like Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist, to identify the cause. Some conditions that cause eye pain can also lead to problems that are more serious if left untreated. In today’s post, we’ll discuss in detail what eye pain may indicate and identify its possible causes.
Back to Basics: The Eye Structure
As we all know, the eye has a number of components. To fully understand eye pain and its possible causes, we need to familiarize ourselves with these components first, particularly their placement and function. These components include, but are not limited to:
- Cornea – The clear front window of the eye, it is responsible for transmitting and focusing light into the eye.
- Iris – This is the colored part of the eye. The iris helps regulate the amount of light that enters your eye.
- Pupil – The dark aperture inside the iris, the pupil determines how much light is let into the eye.
- Lens – This is the transparent structure inside the eye that helps focus light rays onto the retina.
- Macula – This is a small area in the retina that have special light-sensitive cells, allowing us to see fine details clearly.
- Optic Nerve – The optic nerve is the nerve that connects our eyes to the brain, carrying the impulses formed by the retina to our brain’s visual cortex.
Diseases and conditions that involve any of these components, as well as tissues around the eye, can cause eye pain. The most important thing to do when you experience pain in your eyes is to consult a trusted optometrist in Newington, VA, or in other nearby communities here in Virginia to know the best actions to take.
What Does Sudden Eye Pain Indicate?
Eye pain may come from different conditions in or around the eye. One of the common and most feared causes of sudden eye pain is a glaucoma attack. This is a result of the intraocular pressure suddenly increasing up to levels that damage the optic nerve if left untreated for a few hours. It produces side effects such as red eye, blurry vision, and sometimes, nausea and vomiting. Glaucoma attack is one of the few real eye emergencies and should be treated immediately by a professional eye doctor in Woodbridge, VA, or in the surrounding areas to preserve vision.
Other indications of sudden eye pain are optic neuritis or the inflammation of the optic nerve, Tolosa-Hunt syndrome, or more often, simply ocular fatigue after a few hours of reading or working at a near distance without appropriate correction for the patient’s eyeglasses in Woodbridge, VA.
When is Eye Pain an Emergency?
In a perfect world, all of us wouldn’t have to deal with eye pain and our eyes would always feel comfortable 100% of the time. In reality, though, things don’t always work that way. As with other parts of our body, sometimes our eyes can start feeling pain out of nowhere. Many Virginia patients often choose to ignore eye pain, thinking it would pass and resolve on its own in no time. Putting off that appointment with your Lorton, VA, optometrist, however, may just prolong your discomfort and cause your eye pain to get more severe.
If your eye pain come along with any of the following symptoms, you may need to see a doctor as soon as possible:
- CASE #1: Aside from hurting, your eye has taken on a pink or red tinge
POSSIBLE CAUSE/S: Stuck object in the eye, dry eye, conjunctivitis
Redness of the eye may signify a few things. For instance, that bloodshot look may mean you have something stuck on the surface of your eye. If this is the case, you can try several tactics to try getting it out, including blinking a lot or flushing out your eyeball with clean water. If the object is embedded in your eyeball, though, be sure to consult your eye doctor in Woodbridge, VA, immediately instead of dealing with it on your own.
Another possible cause of this redness may be dry eye syndrome. This condition happens when your eyes can’t lubricate themselves properly. When you have a dry eye, either the amount or the quality of your tears can’t keep your eyes moist enough. Aside from redness of the eye, other unpleasant symptoms of dry eye include stinging, burning, sensitivity to light and blurry vision. If dry eye is really the culprit, your doctor may recommend trying out over-the-counter artificial tears to see where it gets you. More intensive treatment options may also be recommended for persisting eye pain and redness.
Conjunctivitis (or pink eye) is also a common cause of eye pain and redness. This occurs when your conjunctiva, or the thin tissue lining your eyelids and the whites of your eyes, gets inflamed due to bacteria, viruses or irritants. Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the type of pink eye you have, which is why it’s best to see your local optometrist here in Virginia about the next steps.
- CASE #2: You wake up with crusty lashes.
POSSIBLE CAUSE/S: Conjunctivitis, blepharitis, blocked tear duct
While conjunctivitis can actually cause this, as can blepharitis, which is an eyelid inflammation that can result in goopy eye discharge, swollen eyelids and a burning feeling in your eyeballs. This eye condition can be caused by a lot of things, such as an allergic reaction to makeup and bacterial infection on your eyelids. If you think you’re dealing with blepharitis, you may ease your symptoms by holding a warm compress over your eyes to loosen the crust and relieve inflammation. It’s still best, though, to visit your eye doctor here in Virginia, as they may suggest use of medication like eyedrops to fight infection and inflammation.
If your eye pain comes with excessive tearing, redness and swelling near the inside corner of your eye, it’s possible that you have a blocked tear duct. This can occur because of an infection or injury, or even just because of the normal narrowing in your tear ducts as you age. Some of the ways you can treat a blocked tear duct is by using antibiotics, massaging the blocked duct or getting a stent put in to help with drainage—all of which require the expertise of an eye doctor.
- CASE #3: Your eyes get extremely sensitive to light.
POSSIBLE CAUSE/S: Dry eye, blepharitis, corneal abrasion
Does your eye pain come with sensitivity to light? That’s a clear sign you have an eye problem and you may need treatment. While dry eye and blepharitis can also include sensitivity to light as one of their symptoms, it’s also possible that your urge to wear protective sunglasses and contact lenses in Gunston Heights, VA, is due to corneal abrasion. This is basically a scratch on your cornea and it can occur due to exposure to wayward sand, dust, dirt and wood shavings.
Fortunately, corneal abrasions usually heal in just a couple of days, but if the pain persists after that, it’s vital to undergo an eye exam right away. Untreated corneal abrasions may lead to corneal ulcer or an open sore on your cornea, which can cause major vision damage. You can ease corneal ulcers by using antibiotic drops, steroid drops and other forms of treatment as prescribed by your trusted optometrist here in Virginia.
Sure, a lot of the symptoms of these conditions may overlap, that’s why it can be difficult to identify on your own the reason your eye hurts. Even eye doctors may find it hard to determine the cause unless they do a thorough eye exam. So, while trying to deal with your eye pain alone can be a great way to be more informed about your eye health and vision, most of the time, a trip to the doctor is really your best bet.
Want to learn more about preventing eye pain? Well, eye pain prevention usually starts with eye protection. A lot of tiny objects may enter your eye, which is why it’s always smart to wear goggles and safety glasses when doing activities such as mowing the lawn, working with tools and even when playing sports. It’s also important to clean your eyeglasses and contact lenses thoroughly and routinely. Don’t forget to give your eyes ample time to rest, so don’t wear your contacts longer than they’re intended to be worn.
Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist is among the leading and most trusted eye clinic in Lorton, VA, and the surrounding communities. If you need professional assistance with your eye pain and other eye care needs, you can turn to us. Call us at (703) 293-5222 today!