The eyeballs have a dense network of pain receptors and sensitive nerve endings that make them very sensitive to internal processes and also to external exposure. This gives the eyes protection but it also means that small factors such as a cold, a gust of the wind, loose eyelashes spread on the surface of the eyes, and a whole lot more can cause pain in the eyeballs.
There are many possible causes for eye pain. It can be caused by a simple infection to something as big as an accident. The eye pain gets better on its own in most cases but in some cases, medical attention might be needed to treat the pain and to prevent further damage to the individual’s eyesight.
Associated Symptoms of Eye Pain
It is usually difficult to determine the reason why your eyeballs may be hurting. To be able to determine the cause of the eye pain, it would help to know the other symptoms that may be linked to eye pain. These symptoms include:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Red itchy eyes
- Clear or thick and colored discharge
- Sensitivity to light
- Decreased vision
- The eye being crusted shut after sleep because of the discharge
- Foreign body sensation or feeling that there’s something in the eye regardless if there’s something or not
Causes of Eye Pain
These are some of the most common causes of eye pain:
- Fatigue in the eye muscles
When the eyes are fixed in one position for a long time, it may cause your eyes to hurt. When you are also wearing the wrong glasses, meaning, they don’t match your vision, or if you are wearing outdated contact lenses, it could also make your eyes tired and cause pain in your eyeballs.
- Sinus infections
Sinus infections can cause an inflammation on the nearby areas including the eyes. A sinus infection may cause a pulsating or sometimes shooting pain behind the eyeball because of the pressure that it creates. When you have a sinus infection and your eyes get affected, a simple movement in the eyes can cause pain.
- Headache and overexertion of facial muscles
A headache or overexertion of the muscles in the face can cause pain in the eyeballs.
A fever or a high body temperature brought about by infectious diseases like flu can cause pain in the eyeballs.
Inflammation of the uveal tract of the eyeball can cause your eyeballs to hurt.
Shingles or herpes zoster can cause terrible pain in they eyes that can lead to blindness.
Severe pain in the eyeball that is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea may be a sign of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease that is characterized by an elevated intraocular pressure and may lead to complete blindness. The pain is oppressive and the pains occur inside the eyes. It’s as if there’s a foreign body inside the eyes. Glaucoma doesn’t usually have early symptoms. There may be some cases of glaucoma though where a sudden pressure inside the eye arises. This condition is also known as acute angle closure glaucoma. The symptoms include severe eye pain, headache, vomiting, nausea, and decreased vision. This condition is an emergency and needs immediate medical attention to prevent blindness.
- Foreign Objects
There may be times when there is really something in the eye such as a plant debris, a bit of dirt, or a part of a contact lens. Foreign objects are usually just irritating and they are washed away with tears or with water. If the foreign objects are not removed, they can result in corneal abrasions.
A stye is an infection of the eyelid margin that can be from oil glands or from the hair follicles of eyelashes. It is also known as hordeolum. A stye is usually painful and is caused by an infection.
Iritis is an inflammation of the coloured part of the eyeball called the iris. Iritis is not common but it can be caused by infections, trauma, or autoimmune diseases. The symptoms of the condition include decreased vision, pain in the eyeball, and red eye.
- Corneal infections
When the cornea is infected or becomes inflamed, it is called keratitis.
- Optic neuritis
It is possible to have an inflammation in the nerve that is travelling from the back of the eyeball that goes into the brain. Autoimmune infections and diseases such as multiple sclerosis usually cause this inflammation. The symptoms of this condition include pain in they eyes and loss of vision.
Treatment of Eye Pain
The simple cases of eye pain can be treated at home by flushing the eye with lukewarm water or commercially prepared eyewash solution.
Avoid rubbing the eye especially if there is a foreign object inside it because it can cause serious damage. If you are not able to remove the foreign object with your tears or with water, immediately seek help from a medical professional. Do not ask someone else to do it for you.
For other mild cases of eye pain, simply rest your eyes, avoid bright light, and take over the counter medication to manage the pain.