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Definition:

Pain in the eye (that is not due to injury) may be described as a burning, throbbing, aching, or stabbing sensation in or around the eye. It may also feel as if there is a foreign body in the eye.



Alternative Names:

Ophthalmalgia; Pain - eye



Considerations:

A feeling of tiredness in the eyes or some discomfort after a long period of work (eye strain) are generally minor problems and do not really qualify as eye pain. These problems may be due to an improper prescription for glasses or a muscle imbalance.

Pain in the eye, although not a common complaint, can be an important symptom that should be evaluated and treated if pain does not improve. It is important to try to describe the pain to your health care provider as much as possible.



Common Causes:

A wide variety of disorders can cause pain in or around the eye. In general, if the pain is persistent, severe, or associated with decreased vision, seek medical attention immediately.

Some of the problems that can cause eye pain are:

  • Burns
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) or any inflammation of the upper and lower lids
  • Contact lens complications
  • Eye problems (infection, irritation, or injury such as a corneal abrasion )
  • Eye surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine headache
  • Sinus problems
  • Stye (hordeolum)
  • Viral infections such as the flu


Home Care:

If the problem is eye strain, rest should relieve the discomfort. If you think your eye pain is due to wearing contact lenses, avoid wearing the lenses for a few days and see if the pain goes away. If the pain is severe, call your doctor.



Call your health care provider if:

Contact your health care provider if:

  • The eye pain is not associated with a viral illness or eyestrain
  • The pain is associated with medical problems such as a history of herpes infections or a new rash
  • The pain is severe (call immediately) or if it continues for more than 2 days
  • You have an immune-system deficiency
  • You have had recent surgery
  • You have pain, redness, swelling, discharge, or pressure in the eyes that persists -- particularly if it affects your vision


What to expect at your health care provider's office:

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

To better understand the source of the pain, your doctor may ask:

  • Are both eyes involved?
  • Is the pain in the eye or around the eye?
  • Does it feel like something is in your eye?
  • Does your eye burn or throb?
  • Did the pain begin suddenly?
  • Is the pain worse when you move your eyes?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

The doctor may perform the following diagnostic tests:




Review Date: 11/13/2007
Reviewed By: Manju Subramanian, M.D., Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery, Boston University Eye Associates, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein 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. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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