Eye Pain

Overview  |  Emergency  |  Causes  |  Diagnosis  |  Treatment  |  Prevention


Pain in the eye can be worrying, especially when you don’t know what’s causing it. Your eye pain may feel like a burning or itching sensation or more like pressure, similar to a headache. It can also feel like your eye is throbbing or aching.

It’s normal for your eyes to feel a little sore now and then, usually due to eye strain. However, severe or ongoing pain may indicate something more serious. Our expert ophthalmologists offer an in-depth evaluation process to determine the cause and relieve you of your pain. Get in touch today if you’ve been experiencing pain in your eye.

When is eye pain an emergency?

If you feel eye pain after an injury to your eye, you should seek medical attention immediately. Do not remove anything that has entered the eye yourself. Leave this to a medical professional. You can try to create a shield out of a plastic cup or similar for protection until you can get help. However, don’t let this delay you from visiting the emergency room.

Additionally, seek medical attention if you experience severe eye pain. If you have a fever, headache, or sudden vision changes, you should also get medical help quickly.

If you’ve recently had eye surgery, contact your ophthalmologist for advice regarding eye pain. It may be a common and temporary side effect of the procedure.


Common causes include allergies, injury, infection, migraines, a reaction to an air pollutant or chemicals, and contact lens problems. However, many eye conditions can cause eye pain.

Conditions that cause eye pain include:

You’ll need to visit an eye specialist to receive a diagnosis, as most of the above require medical attention. 


During your consultation, we’ll ask how long you’ve felt pain and whether you’ve had other symptoms, such as blurred vision. We will discuss your medical history and may talk about your family’s medical history to identify any likely causes.

The medical term for eye pain is ophthalmalgia. If your eye specialist uses this term, it’s not a diagnosis. It’s simply a technical term for what you are experiencing. To determine the cause of it, we will perform an eye examination and recommend any necessary tests.

Before we examine your eye, we may use dilating drops to expand your pupil. This allows us to see your eye better. We may also use a slit lamp exam to get a clearer view of your eye. If we suspect glaucoma, we use a tonometer to measure the pressure of your eye. 

If you are showing signs of an infection, we may take a culture of your eye. Symptoms include redness, light sensitivity, and a yellow, green, bloody, or watery discharge.

How to treat eye pain

Treatment options differ depending on the cause. Once we know what is causing your pain, we can form a tailored treatment plan to tackle it. If allergies are causing your pain, antihistamines should counter this and prevent your eye from watering.

Many causes resolve with an antibiotic ointment or eye drops, though we may also recommend corticosteroids for serious infections. If you often wear contact lenses, you may want to wear glasses until your pain resolves. A warm compress can relieve symptoms of blepharitis and a stye, while artificial tears may help those with dry eyes.

Some problems require a more invasive treatment approach as the condition progresses, for example, keratoconus and glaucoma. However, our ophthalmologist will discuss these in more depth after your diagnosis. We will always choose the least invasive option at Oculase to maximise your comfort and avoid unnecessary procedures.


If you have a diagnosed condition, managing it effectively can avoid future episodes of pain. You can prevent pain from injuries and infections by wearing appropriate protective eyewear when required. If you wear contacts, ensure you take regular breaks to give your eyes time to rest, and maintain good contact lens hygiene.

Focus on getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and stay hydrated to prevent headaches and high eye pressure. If you believe your eye pain is due to strain, try adjusting the light, taking screen breaks, and reducing screen time. Read our blog to learn our top tips for avoiding eye strain.

Book an appointment

Eye pain is often easy to treat if the cause is caught early. However, you must see an eye specialist before your condition worsens to discover the best treatment option for you. Book an appointment with Mr Tariq Ayoub, ranked as one of the UK’s top recommended eye specialists.


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0330 128 1616

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