What It Really Means When You Experience Eye Pain

Have you ever dealt with eye pain? If so, you are not alone; eye pain afflicts countless people. Fortunately, it is typically not something to worry about, and in most circumstances, it will resolve on its own (per Healthline).

According to Healthline, eye pain is most frequently caused by an irritant being caught in the eye. This is an irritating event that has happened to all of us at some point; if medical care was always necessary whenever this happens, emergency rooms would hardly have room for anything else. However, there are some instances in which medical attention is necessary, and those are if the pain is extreme or leads to strange vision changes such as blurry vision. Also, see a doctor if something is literally lodged inside your eyeball.

If not, Dr. Anupama Anchala told Self that the first thing you should try is to blink several times. If that doesn't work, the Mayo Clinic suggests removing your contact lenses if you wear them (with properly washed hands), filling a small cup with lukewarm water, and trying to wash the irritant out of your eye. Another note: the last thing you should do is rub your eye, or use Q-tips or tweezers to try to remove the irritant. These tactics can cause more harm than good.

Now, what if you are experiencing eye pain, and there is nothing stuck in your eye?

Causes of eye pain can range from mild to severe

If it feels like something is in your eye but there really isn't, and the sensation is accompanied by symptoms such as redness, itchiness, discharge, or burning, then it may be due to dry eye or blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid). If the sensation is not accompanied by these symptoms, it may simply be due to a scratch in the eye, and the sensation should resolve within a day or two. 

If your eye is in pain but it does not feel like something is stuck in your eye, possible causes include conjunctivitis ("pink eye"), injury (such as from chemical burns), sty, glaucoma, optic neuritis, and corneal abrasion. The pain may also be caused by inflammation of the iris (iritis) or sinuses (sinusitis). You may also be experiencing irritation due to contact lenses.

Eye pain is likely not to be an emergency, but there are some signs that you need to seek medical care. Seek immediate medical attention if your eye pain is caused by an injury or chemical burn, or if it is accompanied by vomiting, stomach pain, or strange vision changes.