Pains in the eye, an all-too-familiar sensation, can leave us feeling miserable and searching for relief. But what causes these aches and pangs, and how can we address them effectively? In this blog post, we will delve into the various causes of pains in the eye, from common to rare, and explore the treatments and preventative measures to help maintain your eye health and keep discomfort at bay.

Key Takeaways

  • This article explores the causes, treatments and prevention of common eye pain including styes, corneal abrasions, dry eye syndrome and more.
  • Seek medical help for persistent or internal eye pain to prevent complications & secure appropriate treatment.
  • Adopting good hygiene practices & wearing protective gear are essential self care strategies to minimize likelihood of Issues & preserve overall health.

Common Eye Pain Causes

Eye pain can stem from numerous conditions affecting the eyes. Proper treatment and relief hinge upon understanding the cause. Common eye pain causes include:

  • Styes
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Blepharitis

Each of these conditions presents its own set of symptoms, including other symptoms and challenges, but with the right approach, relief is within reach.

We delve into the common causes of eye pain in the following subsections, with an aim to assist you in identifying your specific issue and understanding the optimal treatment approach.


A stye is a painful, red bump on the eyelid, caused by an infected oil gland, eyelash, or hair follicle. The primary indications of a stye include redness, tenderness, and swelling.

To treat a stye at home, follow these steps:

  1. Apply a warm, wet compress to the eye for 10 minutes.
  2. Repeat this process three to four times a day.
  3. Resist the urge to squeeze or pop the stye, as this could spread the infection or cause serious damage to the eye.

A persisting stye might indicate an infection. In such cases, antibiotic eyedrops or oral antibiotics may be prescribed by a doctor.

Corneal Abrasion

Corneal abrasions are painful scratches on the eye’s cornea, often causing a foreign body sensation. They can result from foreign particles, such as sand or dust, entering the eye or accidental scratches from babies or pets. In some cases, a foreign object might be the cause of these abrasions.

Improper contact lens maintenance frequently leads to corneal infections. The typical treatment for corneal abrasions is antibiotics and lubricating eye drops.

Preventing contact lens complications involves:

  • Removing lenses before sleep
  • Using the prescribed solutions
  • Adhering to effective hand and lens cleaning techniques
  • Discarding lenses past their disposal dates

If discomfort is considerable or the damage to the eye is substantial, seek immediate medical attention.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome, marked by insufficient tear production or accelerated tear evaporation, results in irritation, discomfort, redness, and sensitivity to light. Ageing is one of the potential causes for reduction in the tear production. Certain medications, increased evaporation of tears, low humidity, low blink frequency, wearing contact lenses or windy conditions can also contribute to this issue..

Managing dry eye syndrome typically entails the usage of artificial tears, which come as eye drops and gels. These can be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription. If over-the-counter remedies do not provide relief, consult your primary care physician.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is a condition in which the conjunctiva – a thin, clear protective membrane covering the front of the eye – becomes inflamed. This inflammation can cause redness and itching of the eye. Symptoms may include itchiness, yellow-green sticky discharge, and eye redness.

Given the highly infectious nature of conjunctivitis, consulting an eye doctor becomes indispensable when symptoms of eye pain emerge. Bacterial conjunctivitis is diagnosed through patient history, physical examination, and careful eye examination, with smears taken from the eye for testing.

Treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis includes antibiotic eyedrops and applying warm compresses over the eyes to relieve discomfort.


Blepharitis is a bacterial infection affecting the skin. It usually occurs at the base of the eyelashes. The eyelids may appear red, swollen and tender. Greasy flakes of skin or dandruff-like scales may be present around the base of the eyelashes. There may also be abnormal growth or loss of the eyelashes..

Blepharitis may be caused by an infestation of Dermodex mites in the glands of the eyelids. Your ophthalmologist can determine the most appropriate treatments, which may provide relief from symptoms in a few hours or days.

Serious and Less Common Eye Pain Causes

Some eye pain causes are more serious and less common, requiring urgent medical attention. These include:

  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma
  • Keratitis
  • Scleritis
  • Optic neuritis

Such conditions can lead to severe eye pain, blurred vision, vision loss, and other complications if left untreated.

Timely intervention and prevention of long-term eye damage depend on the recognition of the signs and symptoms of these serious causes.

This section discusses the serious and less frequent causes of eye pain and their possible treatments, underscoring the need for medical consultation when symptoms suggestive of these conditions arise.

Recognizing When to Seek Medical Help

Determining the appropriate time for medical consultation for eye pain is critical in averting complications and securing apt treatment. It is advisable to seek medical attention if the pain appears to originate from within the eye, or if you experience loss of vision in conjunction with eye pain. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for addressing eye pain and minimizing the risk of long-term damage.

If eye pain persists for more than a few hours, it is recommended to seek medical attention. A physician may be able to recommend treatments that could be beneficial for persistent eye pain, providing relief and addressing the underlying cause.

Diagnosing Eye Pain

Diagnosing eye pain involves a thorough examination and discussion of medical history. Doctors will ask about the patient’s description of the pain, including:

  • When it began
  • Its severity
  • Any discomfort when looking in different directions or blinking
  • Any prior experience with eye pain

Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be used to diagnose optic neuritis, which is an inflammation of the optic nerve. Blood tests are typically not necessary to ascertain the source of eye pain unless your physician suspects you may be suffering from a systemic illness.

Accurate diagnosis of the eye pain cause allows healthcare providers to identify the most effective options to manage and ease the discomfort.

Effective Self-Care Strategies

Implementing self-care strategies is key in averting eye pain and preserving overall eye health. Implementing good hygiene practices and safeguarding the eyes are effective strategies to minimize the likelihood of eye pain. Adhering to good hygiene practices is essential for averting eye infections and preserving eye health.

Precautionary measures like donning goggles or safety glasses during sports, exercise, lawn mowing, or while using hand tools can diminish the chances of experiencing eye pain. Handling household cleaners, detergents, and pest control cautiously can also prevent eye discomfort.

Being mindful of potential hazards with children’s toys can help protect your and your children’s eyes from injury. Some examples of toys to be cautious of include:

  • Spring-loaded toys
  • Shooting toys
  • Toy swords and guns
  • Bouncing balls

Treatment Options for Various Eye Pain Causes

The range of treatment options for various eye pain causes encompasses:

  • Warm compresses
  • Eye drops
  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Surgery

Antibiotics can address eye discomfort caused by conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions. In certain cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damage caused by a foreign body or burn, or to enhance drainage in the eye for individuals with glaucoma. Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed for conditions such as optic neuritis and anterior uveitis.

Over-the-counter eye drops, such as Systane Complete PF Eye Drops, Refresh Optive MEGA-3, and Refresh Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, are recommended for eye pain caused by dry eye syndrome. Warm compresses can also be beneficial for treating eye pain caused by styes or blepharitis, promoting blood circulation, softening oil glands, loosening crusty deposits, and encouraging fluid drainage.

Preventing Eye Pain

Proactive measures to safeguard your eyes and maintain optimum eye health contribute to the prevention of eye pain. Some ways to protect your eyes include:

  • Wearing protective eyewear, such as goggles or safety glasses, during activities with potential eye hazards
  • Handling chemicals cautiously, such as household cleaners, detergents, and pest control
  • Being aware of potential risks with children’s toys and ensuring they are age-appropriate

These measures can help prevent eye discomfort and protect your eyes from injury.

Practicing proper contact lens hygiene is crucial for those who wear contact lenses to evade eye discomfort. Follow these best practices:

  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling lenses.
  2. Do not sleep in your lenses.
  3. Clean your lenses regularly as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Use fresh contact lens solution.
  5. Do not share lenses with others.
  6. Clean and store your lens case appropriately.
  7. Avoid using water or saliva to clean lenses.
  8. Undergo regular eye examinations.


In summary, understanding the various causes of eye pain and their respective treatments is crucial for maintaining eye health and preventing complications. By practicing good hygiene, protecting your eyes, and seeking medical help when necessary, you can minimize eye discomfort and ensure the well-being of your eyes. Remember, your eyes are a vital part of your overall health; take care of them, and they will take care of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can cause a pain in my eye?

Several conditions, including dry eye syndrome, conjunctivitis, infection, debris in the eye, contact lens issues, headaches, sinus problems, optic nerve problems, acute glaucoma, stye, allergies, blepharitis, cluster headaches, complications from eye surgery, and corneal abrasions can cause eye pain. Seeing an eye doctor immediately after experiencing pain in or around the eyes is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

When should I be concerned about eye pain?

If you are experiencing eye pain accompanied by other symptoms such as vision loss, halos around lights, difficulty moving your eye or flu-like symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What should I do if I feel pain in my eye?

If you feel pain in your eye, seek medical attention immediately if the pain is severe or accompanied by a headache, fever or light sensitivity. Make sure to tell your health care provider if the pain does not go away and consider trying things such as changing the light, taking breaks, reducing screen time, using artificial tears, wearing the right eyewear, applying a warm compress or a cold compress.

What does glaucoma eye pain feel like?

Glaucoma eye pain is severe and can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and decreased vision.

What self-care strategies can help prevent eye pain?

Good hygiene, protective eyewear and careful use of chemicals can help prevent eye pain.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Eye pain: Causes, symptoms and treatment. Retrieved from
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Eye pain. Retrieved from
  3. National Eye Institute. (2021). Eye pain. Retrieved from
  4. Healthline. (2021). Eye pain: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Retrieved from
  5. WebMD. (2021). Eye pain: Symptoms, causes, treatment, and more. Retrieved from


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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