Pain in the eye may be described as a burning, throbbing, aching, or stabbing sensation in or around the eye. It may also feel like you have something stuck in your eye.
This article discusses eye pain not caused by injury.
Ophthalmalgia; Pain - eye
Pain in the eye can be an important symptom of a health problem. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have eye pain that does not go away.
Tired eyes or some eye discomfort (eye strain) is usually a minor problem. These problems may be caused by the wrong eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Sometimes it is due to problem with the eye muscle.
Many things can cause pain in or around the eye. If the pain is severe, does not go away, or causes vision loss, seek medical attention immediately.
Resting your eyes can often relieve discomfort due to eye strain.
If you wear contacts, try using glasses for a few days to see if the pain goes away.
If the pain is severe or continues, call your health care provider.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if:
Something got into your eye that caused the pain
The pain came after an eye injury
The eye pain is not due to 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 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 does not go away -- particularly if it affects your vision
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your health care provider will check your vision, eye movements, and the back of the eye.. If there is major concern, you should see an ophthalmologist. This is a doctor who specializes in eye problems,
To better understand the source of the pain, your health care provider may ask:
Wright JL, Wightman JM. Red and painful eye. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 32.
Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.