The sensation of pain or pressure behind the eyes can be distressing, but there may or may not be a reason to worry. The culprit could be as innocuous as a headache or but might be something more serious. The only way to know for certain is to consult with an eye doctor you trust.
No matter what type of eye- or vision-related symptoms you’re experiencing, Laser Eye Center is here with answers and knowledge to put your mind at ease. If your symptoms are severe, don’t disappear on their own within a few hours, or get noticeably worse over time, we will do our best to work you into our schedule for a prompt evaluation. We want you to receive the medical attention you deserve.
Common Causes of Pain or Pressure Behind the Eyes
Sharp, aching, itching, or throbbing eye pain or pressure behind the eyes can occur for various reasons, including the following:
- An eye or face injury, such as a direct blow to the eye, a burn, or a hit from a projectile
- Getting a chemical or other irritant in the eye
- A viral, bacterial, or fungal infection – transmitted from germs on your hands to your eyes or one that spreads from another part of the body
- Dry eye disease
- Digital eye strain – symptoms that can occur after looking at digital screens for extended periods of time
- Not properly cleaning or wearing contact lenses as they were prescribed – i.e., wearing disposable lenses overnight
- Headaches or migraines
- Inflammation of the eyelids
- Complications from eye surgery
- Optic neuritis – an inflammation of the eye’s optic nerve
What Should I Do If I Experience Eye Pain or Pressure?
If the pain or pressure is mild, you might try relaxing in a dark room, applying a cold compress to your eye area, and waiting a few hours. If you are wearing contacts, switch them out for glasses and let your eyes rest. You may choose to take Tylenol, ibuprofen, or aspirin. These measures may help the discomfort to resolve on its own.
If the pain or pressure is more severe, does not subside on its own, or gets notably worse, it is a good idea to seek medical attention. You should call your eye doctor and describe what you’re experiencing. When consulting with the doctor, try your best to explain when the pain or pressure first began and where exactly it is bothering you. Be specific when describing the pain as a dull ache or sharp piercing, and whether it is intermittent or consistent. This information is useful to pinpoint the cause of the problem.
You are strongly advised to contact an eye doctor immediately or go straight to the nearest emergency room if your eye pain or pressure is very severe, or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden loss of vision
- Swelling in or around your eyes
- Blood or pus discharge from the eye
- Drooping eyelid
The combination of these symptoms along with eye pain or pressure can indicate a more critical underlying cause that requires professional medical attention.
Does Glaucoma Cause Noticeable Eye Pain or Pressure?
Severe eye pain and pressure combined with nausea, vomiting, loss of vision, or red eyes can be indicative of a serious form of glaucoma called angle-closure glaucoma. There are several types of glaucoma, and angle-closure glaucoma is more likely to cause noticeable eye pain or pressure than others.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye’s drainage angle closes suddenly, which prevents fluid in the eye from draining properly. Increased fluid levels in the eye trigger a rapid and dangerous escalation of intraocular pressure. The sudden closure of the drainage channels and increase in intraocular pressure must be medically or surgically treated as quickly as possible to avoid long-term complications like vision loss.
Eye pain and pressure are less closely associated with the more common type of glaucoma, called open-angle glaucoma, which occurs as the drainage canals within the eye progressively become clogged over time. Because this happens so gradually and intraocular pressure rises slowly, many people do not experience noticeable signs or symptoms until the disease is quite advanced.
Treating Pressure or Pain Behind the Eyes
The appropriate treatment for pressure or pain behind the eyes depends on the underlying cause. For example, pain or pressure caused by an infection necessitates the use of eyedrops to eradicate the bacteria, fungus, or virus. Allergy medication can help curtail allergic symptoms and subsequently ease any related discomfort.
Chronic conditions such as dry eye disease generally need a long-term care approach. An ophthalmologist or optometrist can recommend one or more treatments to target the lack of tears or imbalance in tear quality.
Digital eye strain is often helped by limiting time spent staring at screens or taking frequent rest breaks for the eyes. Making ergonomic modifications or screen adjustments can also help alleviate some of the strain on the eyes and make computer work more comfortable.
As mentioned, angle-closure glaucoma requires emergency management to bring intraocular pressure into the normal range and prevent permanent vision damage. Usually this includes surgery to create a new pathway for fluid drainage. Regular monitoring is then recommended long-term to watch for any additional problems.
Preventing Pressure or Pain Behind the Eyes
Depending on the cause of your eye pain or pressure, there may be some tactics you can try to prevent the symptoms in the future. For example, if you discover migraine headaches are causing you pain or pressure and you know that a lack of sleep or dehydration triggers the onset of a migraine, you can be more mindful of your sleep habits and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
If you are prone to seasonal allergies, you can be proactive about taking allergy medications and avoiding the throbbing or aching eye pain that accompanies symptoms.
Being diligent about eye injury prevention is also recommended. If you play contact or collision sports, you should invest in the appropriate eye protection. If you commonly work with chemicals or projectiles on workplace or household projects, be sure to protect your eyes with safety goggles.
Bring Eye Pain or Pressure Under Control With Laser Eye Center
Contact our top team of eye doctors to get to the root of the problem and find fast relief. We have been diagnosing and treating eye- and vision-related disorders for over 30 years, and we are the trusted name in eye care throughout Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and beyond. Call or email Laser Eye Center today to speak to us about your symptoms.
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