Eye Pain: Everything You Need to Know and How to Relieve It

January 5, 2021

Eye pain - at some point in time, everyone will experience this, especially today, when most of what we do is look at screens all day long. However, eye pain is rarely a cause for concern and can be treated without the need for any medication.  If left unchecked, it can lead to more severe problems. So, to help avoid that, continue reading below, find all the information you need, and see whether you should see an eye doctor.

Feeling sick and tired. Frustrated sad unhappy sick young man massaging his head while sitting at his working place in office. The seasonal flu, pandemic influenza, disease prevention concept

The Usual Suspect - Ruling Out Eye Strain

More often than not, most pain that your eyes experience is something called eye strain. It is common today, mainly because almost everyone is exposed to screens, some even for a prolonged time. The reason behind that is because, like us, our eyes get tired, too. That is why, sometimes they feel weak and heavy.

However, there is no need to panic as eye strain is not due to any underlying issues, and proper rest can treat it at times. Although, in this section, we will show you a few of its causes, signs & symptoms, and treatment to help you determine whether the pain in your eye is merely a strain or not. Plus, a few quick tips to help you avoid eye strain.

Causes

  • Doing certain activities for an extended period of time without resting
  • Staring at digital screens all day, such as your mobile phone and your monitor (TV, Laptop, Desktop monitor)
  • Having dry eyes, which is another eye problem
  • Too stressed
  • Lack of sleep
  • Reading fast without pausing from time to time
  • Exposed to a source of bright light
  • Prolonged exposure to air from fans or air conditioners
  • Trying to see in the dark
  • Extended period without wearing corrective glasses

Signs & Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Dry eyes
  • The feeling of sore eyes
  • Extra sensitive when it comes to exposure to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sore neck, back, or shoulders

Self Treatment

  • Resting never hurts anybody - This is probably the most important one. Once you are beginning to feel your eyes are starting to become sore, take a break. You do not even need to take long breaks, just a few short minutes to help your eyes relax.
  • Use soft lighting - When reading a book, working on your computer, or watching TV, make sure the room is softly lit to negate some of the brightness that comes from the screen.
  • Over the counter artificial tears - These things come in handy, especially if you have dry eyes. Pouring a few drops onto your eyes can lubricate them and help you avoid eye strain.
  • Wear proper glasses - If your eye doctor has prescribed you with glasses or contact lenses, make sure that you wear them. Plus, nowadays, they have special tinted or anti-glare glasses and contacts that might help you. Ask your doctor today regarding those.

When to See an Optometrist

You should see an Optometrist or eye doctor if none of the self-treatment worked.

Quick Tips

  • Turn on the blue light filter on your phone - Fortunately, since most people spend their day staring at their phones, mobile companies have created a Blue Light Filter feature on their phones. This turns the rather neutral tones of your phone screen into a much warmer tone, eliminating the blue light, causing eye strain. You can find the Blue Light Feature within your phone’s settings.
  • Adjust text and icon sizes - Make texts and icons a bit larger so that you can read without exerting much effort from your eyes.
  • Blink frequently - If you have no access to eye drops or artificial tears as of the moment, we recommend that you blink more often than you normally do. That is because blinking can help refresh your eyes, and it can also moisturize the eyes, helping dry eyes.

Overall, eye strain does not have long term or serious effects. However, it can be quite frustrating and irritating if you have it since it makes it more difficult to concentrate. We would highly recommend that you observe and follow the above Self Treatment and Quick Tips.

However, if you do find that what you are currently experiencing is not a mere eye strain, continue reading below and find out why your eye is in pain. Afterward, you can see the necessary steps you should take after.

Ocular Pain VS Orbital Pain

Is there a difference between the two? Yes, there is. However, the two are also easily distinguishable from each other. Orbital Pain means that the pain you are experiencing is inside the eye. Ocular Pain, on the other hand, means that the pain is somewhere on the surface of the eye.

Common Ocular Eye Problems

There are currently about four common ocular eye problems, namely: Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, Blepharitis, and Corneal Abrasions. Those might seem like a lot to take in, but we are here to help you out, so we will be discussing them one by one.

Conjunctivitis

Commonly known as pinkeye, this eye problem is the inflammation of the Conjunctiva. Although it is not painful, it can cause irritation, redness, and gunk discharge.

Causes:

  • Allergies
  • Viral or Bacterial Infections

Treatment:

  • Stop wearing contact lenses
  • Antihistamine medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Antibiotic Eye drops

Keratitis

This is an infection of your cornea, which can cause your cornea to inflame.

Causes:

  • Viral or Bacterial Infection
  • Leaving contacts in overnight
  • Wearing unclean contacts

 

Treatment:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal medication (Rare)

Blepharitis

This is the inflammation or infection of the eyelid that causes it to swell up. However, this is also not typically painful. At times, when infected with Blepharitis, a Sty or Stye can be created. This is a slightly raised bump on the eyelid, and this is painful.

Causes:

  • Dandruff from the eyebrows
  • Clogged oil glands on your eyelids
  • Dry eyes

Treatment:

  • Clean the eyelids
  • Antibacterial eye drops
  • Steroid eye drops

Corneal Abrasions

This is due to a scratch in your eye, which is shockingly easy to do. Additionally, this is quite painful.

Causes:

  • Rubbing eyes
  • Minor tear from wood shavings, dust, pieces of paper

Treatment:

  • Prescription eye drops
  • Wearing of an eye patch

Common Orbital Eye Problems

For Orbital Problems, there are about three that are eye-related. These are Iritis, Glaucoma, and Optic Neuritis. Like what we did for ocular eye problems, we will also discuss the three common orbital issues.

Iritis

Sometimes called uveitis, Iritis is the inflammation of the iris, which can cause pain in the eye. Some of its symptoms include worsening of vision and red eyes.

Causes:

  • Blunt force trauma
  • Bacterial or Viral infections
  • Genetics

Treatment:

  • Steroid eye drops
  • Dilating eye drops
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medication if caused by infection

Glaucoma

This is the fluid build up in your eye, which causes severe pressure. Plus, this eye problem does not come with any warning signs. Symptoms would include headache, loss of vision, and nausea. If experiencing this, you would need to get medical assistance immediately to avoid the total loss of sight.

Causes:

  • Age
  • Genetics

Treatment:

  • Prescription eye drops
  • Oral medications
  • Surgery
  • Therapy

Optic Neuritis

This is the inflammation of the nerves that are attached at the back of your eyes. Its symptoms are loss of vision and pain when you look side to side with your eyes.

Causes:

  • Bacterial or Viral Infections
  • Lupus

Treatment:

  • It gets better on its own
  • Steroid medications to reduce swelling

Non-Eye Related Problems That Can Cause Eye Pain

Often, we experience other pains that are unrelated to your eyes but can also lead to discomfort.

Migraines

For people that are experiencing migraines, a common side effect of that is eye pain.

Sinusitis

This is an infection of the sinuses, which causes them to swell up. Additionally, the infection can cause a build-up of pressure in your eyes, which can be quite discomforting.

Foreign Entities

Things such as dirt, small pieces of paper, or wood shavings can quickly get in your eye, causing irritation and abrasion if not taken out immediately. Rinse them with water until all is washed away.

Blunt Force Trauma

This usually happens when your eye is hit with something hard, which can cause pain. This is quite common for athletes in Boxing and MMA. However, this can happen when you least expect it.

When Should You See A Doctor?

If your eye pain is so extreme that it causes an interruption in your day-to-day activities. Plus, if any of the following accompanies it:

  • Frequent vision changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Tests and Medical Equipment Used for Eye Pain Diagnosis

When you meet with your doctor, they can do a range of tests to diagnose the cause of your eye pain accurately. These common tests are the following:

  • Using Dilating Drops - This allows your pupil to expand, letting the doctor see further into your eye.
  • Using a Tonometer - This piece of equipment is used to measure the amount of pressure in your eye. Commonly used for Glaucoma.
  • Using a Slit-Lamp Test - This test requires a doctor to shine a bright light on the eye so that they can see more clearly.

Close up shot of female pours drops in red eye, has conjuctivitis or glaucoma, bad eyesight and pain. Eyes pain treatment concept. Woman cures red blood eye

Common Treatments for Eye Pain

Depending on the level of pain you are experiencing with your eyes, treating them can be as simple as home remedies to complicated surgeries. So, if you want to know what you should do next about your eye pain, here they are:

Wear Glasses

If you have been prescribed with glasses, wear them. They were prescribed to you for a reason. Plus, if you are constantly using contacts, we recommend that you switch to glasses from time to time for your corneas to relax.

Resting

Basically, what do we do when we are tired? We rest. So, if you are currently experiencing eye pain, take proper rest. That includes an adequate sleeping schedule so that it can give your eyes enough time to heal.

Rinsing

This is quite essential, especially if you have foreign bodies that went into your eyes. This helps avoid irritation.

Warm Compress

If you are experiencing Blepharitis or Stye, you can try to soak a thin piece of cloth in warm water and apply it on top of your eyelids. This helps in clearing those clogged oil glands in your eyelids.

Eye Drops

Doctors prescribe various eye drops for multiple treatments for eye pains. The type of eye drop prescribed to you is entirely based on what eye pain you are experiencing.

Antibiotics

These are normally used for infections in your eyes that are caused by bacteria or a virus. These can also be administered orally or through eye drops.

Antihistamines

If you are prone to or you have allergies, eye doctors might prescribe you with antihistamines. It can be in the form of eye drops or oral medications.

Pain Relief Medications

If your eye’s pain is affecting your daily life, your doctor might prescribe you with pain relief medications that you will only take until your eyes are fully healed.

Surgery

If the pain in your eye does not stop even after several medications and other treatments, your doctor might suggest that you have surgery. However, this is only an option for more severe eye problems, such as Glaucoma.

Conclusion

In a world where screens are taking over our lives, it is all the more important to take proper care of our eyes. We need them to help us get through our day and life. That is why we have taken the time to carefully write down everything that you need to know so that you can learn to avoid eye pain. Do not forget to rest from time to time; that is the most important part.

Erickson, a certified Interior Designer and Ergonomist, has cultivated a unique career blending aesthetics, functionality, and well-being. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Interior Designfrom a prestigious institution, Erickson is well-versed in creating spaces that are both visually pleasing and conducive to human comfort and health.
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