• Pain Behind Eyes - Causes and Treatment

Pain Behind Eyes — Causes and Treatment

Headaches are bad enough, but pain behind the eyes is a spe­cial kind of tor­ment. Eye pain is mys­te­ri­ous and fright­en­ing because it shouldn’t hap­pen that often, and when it does, it threat­ens vision, the sense we rely upon most. Here are some com­mon rea­sons you may be expe­ri­enc­ing pain behind one of both eyes.

Pressure and Pain Behind Eyes

Headaches are prob­a­bly the most com­mon rea­son for pain behind eyes. In clus­ter headaches, there may be pain behind right eye, left, or even both. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the affect­ed eye is often red, swollen, or tear­ing and accom­pa­nied by sear­ing or pierc­ing pain from behind it.

A true sinus headache — we say “true” because many sup­posed sinus headaches are actu­al­ly migraines — is caused by obstruc­tions, includ­ing sea­son­al aller­gies, that pre­vent the sinus­es from drain­ing. Mucus builds up inside the sinus, cre­at­ing an invit­ing envi­ron­ment for bac­te­ria and virus­es. As the sinus swells, it puts direct pres­sure (and pain) on the eye in front of it.

Pain on one side of the face and in one eye is also a hall­mark of a migraine. Migraines are par­tic­u­lar­ly debil­i­tat­ing because they can cause auras — painful visu­al flash­es and oth­er dis­tur­bances — as well as pain behind the eye and extreme light sen­si­tiv­i­ty. Many suf­fer­ers become nau­seous; for rea­sons not ful­ly under­stood, vom­it­ing often relieves head and eye pain.

Eye­strain can also cause pain behind the eyes. Undi­ag­nosed myopia (near­sight­ed­ness) forces the brain to com­pen­sate, lead­ing to strained and pained eyes. Star­ing at a com­put­er screen or TV for hours can over­stim­u­late the brain and cause pain to the eyes.

Treating Headaches With Pain Behind Eyes

While you treat the cause of a headache, treat the eye pain with cold com­press­es over the eyes while you’re wait­ing for the pain reliev­er to kick in. It relieves swelling as well.

  • Sinus headache treat­ments include anti­his­t­a­mines for aller­gy-induced sinus block­ages and over-the-counter pain reliev­er.
  • Migraines may respond to over-the-counter pain relief.
    • Chron­ic migraines often need pre­scrip­tion drugs.
    • Lying in a dark, qui­et room lessens eye strain.

Pressure and Pain Behind Eyes

Pain Behind the Right Eye Versus Pain Behind the Left Eye

Oth­er than injury, there are no spe­cif­ic caus­es for pain behind the right eye or left eye. Injuries to the head or face often affect the facial nerves, and cause pain in the mus­cles and nerves behind the eyes, espe­cial­ly if the sinus­es are impact­ed. So, injury to the left side of the face can cause pain behind the left eye, while a blow to the right side can do the same to the right eye.

Toothaches can also bring pain behind one or both eyes depend­ing on the loca­tion of the affect­ed tooth or teeth. In worst cas­es, den­tal abscess­es spread the infec­tion to the supe­ri­or oph­thalmic vein, which can cause throm­bo­sis (blood clots) and pre­vent the vein from prop­er­ly drain­ing the eye. This is a seri­ous infec­tion that brings excru­ci­at­ing pain behind the eyes.

Painful, bulging eyes is a symp­tom of Graves’ Dis­ease. Swollen tis­sue and mus­cles behind the eyes trig­ger pain there as well. In extreme cas­es, the eye­ball can­not move and there may be dou­ble vision.

About 50% of peo­ple with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis may suf­fer from optic neu­ri­tis, an inflam­ma­tion of the nerve that con­nects the eye and brain. Eye move­ment is painful, and there may be vision loss in one eye.

Pay atten­tion to eye pain, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’ve had a head or facial injury or have had a cold that last­ed more than two weeks. This may indi­cate a seri­ous sinus infec­tion. You can’t be too care­ful pro­tect­ing this most valu­able of our five sens­es.

December 20th, 2018|Comments Off on Pain Behind Eyes — Causes and Treatment

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.


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