Why do our eyes hurt?

Eye pain is common, but is rarely a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. Most of the time, the pain goes away without medicine or treatment. This eye pain is also known as ophthalmalgia.

Depending on where the discomfort is, it can be classified into one of two categories: eye pain occurs on the surface of the eye, and orbital pain occurs within the eye. If you have recently noticed something strange in your eyes, we reveal all the possible causes and treatments.

Pain that occurs on the surface can be a scratching, burning, or itching sensation. If it is superficial it is usually caused by irritation from a foreign object, infection or trauma. This type of pain is usually easily treated with eye drops or rest.

If it occurs deeper within the eye, it can be painful, gritty, or stabbing. This type may require more in-depth treatment. On the other hand, if it is accompanied by loss of vision, it can be a symptom of a problem that requires urgent attention. It is important that you call a specialist doctor if you begin to lose your vision while experiencing eye pain.

What Causes Eye Pain?

There are numerous factors that influence this eye discomfort. The least important are those caused by the intrusion of some or foreign object . This is by far the most common cause of eye pain – just having something in your eye. Whether it’s an eyelash, a piece of dirt, or makeup, having a foreign object can cause irritation, redness, watery eyes, and pain.

Conjunctivitis is also quite common. The conjunctiva is the tissue that lines the front of the eye and the lower part of the eyelid. It can become infected and inflamed due to an allergy or infection. Although the pain is usually mild, the inflammation causes itching, redness, and discharge from the eye. Some doctors also call it pink eye.

People who wear contact lenses overnight or do not disinfect them properly are more susceptible to eye pain caused by irritation or infection. This could lead to abrasion of the cornea. This transparent surface covers the eye and is susceptible to injury. When you have a corneal abrasion, it will feel as if you have something inside that scratches you. However, treatments that normally remove irritants from an eye, such as rinsing with water, will not relieve pain and discomfort.

Sudden chemical burns to the eyes can also cause significant pain. These burns are usually the result of exposure to irritants such as bleach or strong light sources such as the sun, tanning booths, or materials used in arc welding.

We cannot forget blepharitis, which occurs when the sebaceous glands on the edge of the eyelid become infected or inflamed. It can be quite painful, especially if it becomes infected or several days go by without disappearing. A blepharitis infection can create a lump or bump on the eyelid. It is what is also known as or rzuelo .

hombre con dolor ocular

Factors that cause orbital pain

The other type of eye pain is orbital pain. This is felt inside the eye itself and can be caused by the following underlying conditions.

  • Glaucoma This condition occurs when intraocular pressure, or the pressure inside the eye, increases. Associated symptoms include nausea, headache, and loss of vision. A sudden increase in pressure, called acute angle-closure glaucoma, is an urgent problem and immediate treatment is needed to prevent permanent vision loss.
  • Optic neuritis . You may experience eye pain along with vision loss if the nerve that connects the back of the eyeball to the brain becomes inflamed.
  • Sinusitis A sinus infection can cause pressure to build up behind the eyes. Doing so can cause pain in one or both eyes.
  • Migraines Eye pain is a common side effect of migraine attacks.
  • Injury Penetrating eye injuries, which can occur when a person is struck with an object or is part of an accident, can cause significant eye pain.
  • Iritis . Although not very common, inflammation in the iris can cause pain inside the eye.

mujer tratando el dolor ocular con mascarillas

How is eye pain treated?

Most eye pain will go away without treatment or with mild treatment. Eye discomfort and the underlying conditions that cause it usually do not cause permanent damage to the eye. However, this is not always the case. Some conditions that cause eye pain can also cause problems that are more serious if left untreated.

It is important that you bear in mind the importance of going to a doctor. If you start to experience vision loss in addition to eye pain, this may be a sign of an emergency situation. Other symptoms that need immediate medical attention include:

  • Severe pain
  • Discomfort from trauma or exposure to a chemical or light
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting accompanying eye pain
  • Discomfort so severe that it is impossible to touch the eye
  • Sudden and dramatic changes in vision

The treatment for eye pain depends on the cause that originates it, although we will tell you about the most common ones below.

Home care

The best way to treat many of the conditions that cause eye pain is to let the eyes rest . Looking at a computer or television screen can cause eyestrain, so your doctor may ask you to rest with your eyes covered for a day or more. Doctors may direct people with blepharitis or a stye to apply warm, moist towels to their eyes. This will help clear the clogged oil gland or hair follicle.

On the other hand, if you wear contact lenses regularly, it will be time to take a break from them to give the corneas enough time to heal using the glasses.


Oral antibacterial drops and antibiotics can be used to treat eye infections that cause pain, including conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions. In fact, people with glaucoma can use medicated eye drops to reduce the pressure that builds up in the eyes. Oral antihistamines can also help relieve pain associated with eye allergies. Even for more serious infections, such as optic neuritis and iritis, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids .

If the pain is severe and causes a disruption in your daily life activities, a doctor may prescribe a pain reliever to help ease the pain until the underlying condition is treated.

Can eye pain be prevented?

Eye pain prevention starts with protecting your eyes. The best ways to do this is by wearing protective glasses. These prevent many causes of eye pain, such as scratches and burns, so they are perfect to use when playing sports, exercising, mowing the lawn, or working with hand tools.

It is also advisable that you handle chemicals with caution. Some direct chemicals and strong agents like household cleaners, detergents, and pest control can cause vision problems. Try to spray them away from your body when you use them.

In the case of the little ones, we must avoid giving them a toy that could damage their eyes. Toys with spring-loaded, firing components, toy swords, guns, and bouncing balls can damage the eye of a child, and an adult.

Finally, it is important to have a proper cleaning of lenses and glasses thoroughly and routinely. Wear your glasses from time to time to allow your vision to rest. Do not wear contact lenses for longer than they are designed, or leave them on when you go to sleep.