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Eye pain

A characteristic symptom of several types of ocular inflammation.
Corneal lesions are often very painful.
It is not always related to the severity of the process.

What is eye pain?

Eye pain is one of the main reasons for emergency visits to an ophthalmologist. However, it is not always a clue to the severity of the underlying problem: surface erosion of the cornea might be very painful –as this tissue contains a lot of nerves (up to 300 times more than the skin)–, whereas diseases that threaten your vision, such as retinal detachment or other retinal disorders, for example, do not hurt.

Associated pathologies

Eye pain responds to many different causes. In terms of the cornea, it might be due to injuries (either mild or severe, such as ulcers), or to abnormalities in the innervation of this tissue (in the case of some forms of dry eye) or inflammation (keratitis).

Pain is also characteristic of inflammation of the iris (a type of uveitis), of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) or even of the entire eyeball (endophthalmitis).

A strange case is that of glaucoma, a disease that does not often hurt or have evident symptoms, except in the case of a severe attack due to a very sudden increase in intraocular pressure. In this case it is extremely painful.

If you have suffered from an eye injury, it is quite normal for your eye to hurt. Discomfort is also normal during periods following ophthalmic surgery, and will disappear in a few days in most cases.

What are the effects of eye pain?

Eye pain might show itself in different ways, from a mild feeling to intense discomfort, which you might notice on the surface of the eye, or inside or around it. Depending on the cause, you might experience it in both eyes at the same time, or in just one, either intermittently or more permanently.

You might sometimes describe it as if you had something in your eye; or you could also feel a burning or a “stabbing” feeling.

What should you do if you have eye pain?

We recommend not waiting for the eye pain to get worse before you arrange an appointment with the ophthalmologist. A full eye examination is required to avoid complications or greater damage in many cases, as the specialist might precisely diagnose the triggering causes, determine its severity, and indicate the appropriate therapy.

In terms of post-operative eye pain, treatment with analgesics prescribed by your doctor for the days after surgery will help relieve this. You will see how is gradually improves, although if this is not the case and it gets worse you should ask for advice. The Miranza clinics (link) have an emergency ophthalmology department that you can always attend.