Your eyes can do amazing things. They can process information instantly through a network of muscles, nerves, and tissue, giving you a crystal-clear picture of the world around you. The seven million cones and 100 million rods in your retina all work together to bring you the world in living color.
We rely on this complex system to observe and navigate our world, but it’s easy to take your eyes for granted. When you feel a sudden and unexplained pain in your eyes, you can’t afford to ignore it.
Like any part of your body, you might feel pain in your eyes that seems completely mysterious. It could be caused by severe eye conditions like narrow-angle glaucoma and optic neuritis, or it might be something mild like dry eyes. Most eye pain won’t go away without treatment, so it’s essential to get to the bottom of your pain.
This article will cover seven different eye pain causes and when it might be time to visit your Las Vegas eye doctor.
What Does Eye Pain Feel Like?
In some cases — like an eye injury — the cause of your eye pain might feel obvious. But other kinds of pain might come up out of nowhere, with no apparent reason.
Not all pain feels the same, and your eyes are no different. Eye pain can be:
- A stabbing pain
- A burning pain
- A dull ache
- A throbbing pain
- A feeling like something is “in” your eye
The pain itself is often accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- Blurred vision
- Red or pink color
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
- Excessive discharge
7 Eye Pain Causes You Should Know About
From injuries to eye diseases, there are many reasons why you might feel eye pain. Depending on the severity, they might require different levels of treatment.
Here are some of the most common causes of eye pain.
1. Debris in the Eye
It’s not uncommon for debris like dirt or dust to become trapped in the eye. You might feel like something is trapped under the lid, with pain that worsens when blinking.
2. Corneal Abrasion
When a foreign object gets in the eye, it can’t always be easily flushed out. In some cases, the debris can leave a scratch or other abrasion on the cornea or the clear tissue on the surface of your eye.
3. Dry Eyes
When your eyes become too dry, you might notice a stinging, burning pain, along with redness, irritation, or excess mucus around the eyes. This can be due to medication side effects, contact lens use, or other medical conditions.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, can occur when the tissue that borders the front of the eye and the underside of the eyelid becomes infected and inflamed. While the pain may be mild, you also could notice inflammation, itchiness, redness, and discharge in the eye.
5. Eye Injury
There are countless ways you could injure your eyes. Whether from a direct blow during a sports match or a piece of metal flying off a saw, eye injuries can come in a range of different severities.
Other issues, like chemical exposure or intense light exposure, can also cause eye injuries.
A stye occurs when an infection creates a raised bump on the eyelid. The bump can be extremely painful. When touched, the area around is typically very tender and sensitive.
7. Optic Neuritis
Optic neuritis occurs when the optic nerve, or the nerve that links the back of the eye to the brain, becomes inflamed. This can cause severe eye pain and even loss of vision.
8. Narrow-Angle Glaucoma
While it’s less common than most forms of glaucoma, narrow-angle glaucoma can cause fluid to build up rapidly in the eye. The resulting pressure can cause severe eye pain, headache, nausea, blurred vision, and seeing halos around bright lights. As it develops so quickly, it requires immediate emergency treatment.
How to Protect Your Eyes
Sometimes, pain is completely unpreventable. Whether it’s an eye injury or a developing eye disease, you may not always have control over the health of your eyes.
It might be impossible to eliminate the risk of eye pain, but there are some steps you can take to protect your eyes over the long term. Here are some eye pain prevention tips to keep in mind:
- Always wear sunglasses with UV protection
- Fill any gaps in your diet with the right supplements
- Exercise regularly and stick to a good sleep schedule
- Practice good eye hygiene by taking off makeup at night, washing your face and eyes regularly, and keeping contact lenses clean
- Keep your eyes well moisturized with eye drops as needed
- Always wear protective gear if you’re doing something that may put the eye at risk of injury, like construction or sports
- Get regular eye exams to catch issues as soon as they develop
When It’s Time to See a Doctor
Any eye pain should be considered an emergency. It’s hard to tell how critical an eye issue is by the level of pain — sometimes, a minor problem can lead to severe pain, while a more serious eye condition will only cause little discomfort.
No matter what kind of pain you’re experiencing, the best course of action is to seek out an eye doctor right away. Only a professional can find the exact cause of your eye pain and prescribe the treatment you need.
With all that said, there are some signs of a serious issue that require immediate attention. Signs of this can include:
- You have any kind of eye injury
- You notice swelling in or around the eye
- You have a sudden change in your vision.
- You have severe pain accompanied by blurred vision and/or sensitivity to light
- You recently had eye surgery, including LASIK or cataract surgery
- Your pain is severe and came on suddenly, especially if you have glaucoma
Getting to the Root of Your Eye Pain
Regardless of the root cause, pain in the eye can be uncomfortable. It could also be a sign of a deeper issue that needs medical attention right away. Always go to a professional if you’re experiencing severe eye pain or any kind of pain that lasts for more than a few hours.
Most common causes of eye pain are treatable. An experienced optometrist or ophthalmologist can get to the root of your diagnosis, prevent further damage, and get you on the path toward recovery. When it comes to your eyes, it’s not worth taking a chance — see an eye doctor in the Las Vegas area right away to get the treatment you need. Looking for a doctor you can trust? Learn more about the services at Brimhall Eye or contact us to set up an appointment.