Eye pain can come in different forms, such as aching, burning, throbbing or stabbing. This can occur in the eye or around it. Tiredness and discomfort around the eyes is not cause for alarm. Most often, eye pain such as this can be rectified as it could be due to a muscle imbalance or needing a new pair of spectacles. However, persistent pain in the eyes should not be ignored and should be taken extremely seriously. This is because eye pain is often a cause of an underlying medical condition. Therefore, any pain in eyes should be attended to by a specialist ophthalmologist.
Types and Causes of Eye Pain
There are two categories of pain in the eyes. These are ‘ocular pain’ and ‘orbital pain’. Ocular pain occurs on the surface of the eye. This can be in the form of a burning sensation, grittiness, scratchiness, etc. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common ocular eye problems. It causes the membrane lining of the eyelids to become inflamed. Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, allergies, diseases, Chlamydia and fungi. A viral infection of the conjunctiva is referred to as “pink eye” and needs to be treated with proper medication.
In some cases, pain in eyes can be caused by abrasions. Scratching and overuse of contact lenses can cause abrasions that cause pain in the eyes. In addition, exposure to certain chemical substances and flash burns can also cause pain in the eyes. Another reason for ocular eye pain is a sty. A sty causes a lump on the eyelid that occurs due to a blocked oil gland. This can cause extreme pain in the eyes.
Orbital pain can be described as pain deep in the eyes. Orbital pain is most often associated with an eye disease. Glaucoma is one of the main causes of such eye pain. Glaucoma is caused by an increase in eye pressure that, if left untreated, can impair the vision. In addition to glaucoma, migraine, iritis, optic neuritis, and sinusitis are also some of the conditions that can cause orbital pain.
Symptoms of Eye Pain
Pain in eye will differ from person to person and also vary according to the factors causing it. For example, individuals who have glaucoma will feel stabbing pain in eye, nausea, vomiting, headaches and decreased vision. Conjunctivitis will cause pain in the eyes and discharge. Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, will cause a sensation of grit in the eyes. Painful, red eyes sometimes accompanied with decreased vision are a symptom of iritis. In addition, certain conditions can cause sensitivity to light, double vision, pain with eye movement and severe headaches accompanying the pain in the eyes.
Any of the abovementioned symptoms will require medical attention. Therefore, if pain in eye is experienced, it is advisable to obtain an appointment with an ophthalmologist for an eye examination. Certain conditions such as eye pain caused by burns, pain in the eyes related to traumatic events such as accidents or eye pain with loss of vision need emergency medical care.
When pain in the eyes is experienced, an ophthalmologist will evaluate a patient with a physical examination and history of the condition. Questions will include characteristics, location and duration of the pain among others. In addition, patients will be questioned on any medications taken, allergies, family history, etc. The physical examination will consist of checking the vision, surrounding tissues, peripheral vision, as well as the pupil’s reaction to light. Medication and treatment will depend on the results of these examinations.
Medication for Pain in the Eyes
The ophthalmologist will prescribe medication once the examination is conducted and the results are obtained. Medication will vary according to the condition of the patient and the severity of the problem; therefore, medication should not be taken without a prescription. For example, antibiotic eye drops and eye ointments will be prescribed for patients suffering with conjunctivitis, corneal abrasions and ulcerations. Those with chemical burns will be prescribed medication depending on the severity of the burns. Glaucoma medication will begin with eye drops and will proceed to intravenous and tablet medication. Patients suffering from migraine headaches will be prescribed pain relief medication, as well as migraine medication.
Preventing Pain in the Eyes
It is difficult to prevent accidents. However, certain problems concerning pain in the eyes can be prevented if proper measures are taken. For example, wearing eye protection when working with power tools, playing sports and mowing lawns will help protect the eyes form any damage that can be caused. Parents should supervise children’s movements and play equipment to avoid any eye injuries that could be caused by their toys. Reading safety instructions and abiding by them is vital when handling potent chemicals. People who wear contact lenses should ensure that their eyes are constantly moist and should follow their doctor’s instructions on how to wear them. These methods will help to ensure that the possibility of eye pain related to infections and accidents is decreased.
Loss of vision is devastating. Therefore, it is necessary to pay strict attention to any pain in the eyes that causes discomfort. Individuals are advised not to wait until there is stabbing pain in their eye before visiting an ophthalmologist. Timely treatment and medication is necessary to protect the eyes from loss of vision.