Understanding Common Causes of Eye Pain

Harman Kaur
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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causes of eye pain

Everyone has faced the issue of sore eyes at some point or the other in their lives. 

There are times when the pain gets better over time. But if they not, it can lead to some severe issues. 

This is when you need to consult your eye doctor to understand the cause. 

Some frequent causes of eye pain usually center around the eyes. 

These include the Cornea, Scalera (white of the eye), and a thin layer that covers it known as the Conjunctiva. The part of the eye which is colored is known as the iris.

The muscles that control the eye, the nerves, and the eyelids can also be sources of eye pain.

The pain can be related to our daily lifestyle and the pressure we put on our eyes. 

According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that about 2,000 U.S. workers daily sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment, which is treatable.

Symptoms of eye pain

Your eye gets tired with intense use, such as while driving or staring at screens for too long.

Eyestrain can be annoying. Although if you start taking precautions, it subsides. 

But some cases need treatment if the symptoms of eyestrain indicate a particular eye condition. 

Some symptoms of eye strain are

  • Sore neck, shoulders, or back
  • Headache
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sore, tired, burning, or itching eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased sensitivity to light, called photophobia
  • Getting trouble while keeping your eyes open

What are the causes of eye pain?

Various causes can lead to pain behind your eyes. Most of the time, we are unaware of the same. 

Some of the causes are: 


If you strain your eyes for a longer time, it can make them tired, dry, and blurry. 

According to research, people who stare at anything for an extended hour tend to blink their eyes less. This makes the eyes less moist. 

Therefore, it is always advised we should use digital devices from a comfortable distance. 

Taking breaks from digital devices is also necessary to reduce eyestrain.

The following situations may put people at risk of eyestrain:

  • Longer screen hours
  • Driving for hours
  • Staring at a screen in dim light
  • Struggle to see without glasses


Eye pain treatment where eyestrain is too much can be reduced by giving rest to the eyes. 

Practicing the 20-20-20 rule can help in this situation.
It involves looking from a distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Sinus infection

Doctors often mistake sinus infections for migraines because the symptoms and triggers, like changes in the weather, are the same.

To find out what’s causing a headache, a person should talk to a doctor.

Discolored and thick nasal discharge is a usual symptom of a bacterial or viral infection in the sinus.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Facial pain
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • a feeling of pressure
  • an impaired sense of smell


Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat this type of bacterial infection.

Doctors sometimes use a CT scan to determine whether sinus disease or migraine is causing the pain.


Migraine is an ordinary condition that relates to the brain. It can often cause headaches and excessive pain behind the eye. 

Image of person with Migraine headacheSource: shotsstudio_from_Getty_Images
Migraine Headache

The condition affects around two in ten people. Moreover, it is generally seen in females more than in males. It also tends to run families.

Migraine symptoms can cause visual disturbances, such as:

  • Zig-zag lines
  • Flashes of light
  • Shimmering lights

These problems may only happen on one side of the head. It worsens when the person moves or is exposed to loud sounds, bright lights, or strong smells.

Migraine headaches can also make people feel sick and make them throw up. 


People who suffer from migraine often are prescribed medications. 

These medications are responsible for balancing the chemical changes that lead to a migraine:

  • Zomig
  • Imitrex
  • Amerge

If migraine attacks occur frequently and are severe, doctors may recommend daily medicines like beta-blockers.

Cavernous sinus thrombosis

This rare condition can happen when a life-threatening or septic blood clot forms in the cavernous sinus.

The cavernous sinus is a vein that goes from the back of the eye sockets to the bottom of the brain. A bacterial infection often causes this condition. 

Septic cavernous sinus thrombosis has the following reasons for occurrence:

  • Dental infections
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Pharyngitis
People whose Diabetes is not under control or those who are taking cancer treatment may be at risk of developing cavernous sinus thrombosis.

Symptoms of the condition include,  

  • Vision changes
  • Severe, sudden headaches
  • High fever
  • Swelling around the eyes


Around three to four weeks are required while treat this condition by doctors. Antibiotics and antimicrobial therapies are required to do the same.  

Experts also recommend anticoagulants for blood thinning and to prevent further blood clots. These are prescribed for several weeks by the doctors. 

Angle-closure glaucoma

Glaucoma SymptomsSource: wikimedia_org
Vision difference in Glaucoma

Glaucoma is of two types primary open-angle and angle-closure.

Also Read: Understanding the Different Types of Glaucoma

The optic nerve is damaged in primary open-angle Glaucoma because eye fluid doesn’t drain properly. But this kind of Glaucoma is not so painful.

Angle-closure Glaucoma happens when a person’s iris blocks the draining angle where eye fluid leaves the eye. 

When this gets blocked, pressure builds up quickly, and to protect your vision, you need to see a doctor immediately.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Sudden, severe eye pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Seeing halos around lights


Angle-closure Glaucoma is treated with medical treatments like eye drops, per a doctor’s prescription. 

You can buy, Actavis Bimatoprost from WowRxPharmacy, for treating eye pressure.

A person should use eye drops daily to reduce eye pressure. This treatment also helps in maintaining vision. 

Giant cell arteritis

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) is a type of vasculitis. It is a group of rare diseases causing inflammation of the blood vessels. 

This condition, also known as temporal arteritis, can lead to swelling in the scalp, temples, and head arteries. 

Symptoms of GCA include

  • Fever
  • Persisting headache
  • Fatigue
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Loss of appetite

Permanent vision loss can also happen in some cases, which can be prevented with appropriate treatment. 


GCA needs to be treated right away by a doctor so that vision loss doesn’t happen. 

High doses of corticosteroids, usually 40–60 milligrams (mg) per day of prednisone for a month, are used to treat the condition.


We know eye pain is something that can’t be borne. There are many causes that lead to the same, like eyestrain, migraine, sinus, and many more.

But if you start taking these into consideration and take proper care along with the treatment, you can overcome your eye pain. 

There are eye drops, too, which will help you with your eye pain. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes eye pain?

Injuries, infections, and inflammation could lead to eye pain. Treatments vary on the cause, including surgery, shielding your eyes, or eye drops. 

Can allergies cause eye pain?

Yes, eye allergies are common in millions of Americans. It is a sign of Conjunctivitis if you are your eyes are red, burning, or tearing.

What causes sharp stabbing pain in the eye?

On the surface of your eye, you might feel the pain that itches, burns, or shoots. A foreign object within your sight, an eye infection, or anything that irritates the membrane that covers the surface of your eye can cause surface eye pain.

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