“I’ve got something in my eye.”
Eye pain is typically described as a burning, sharp, shooting, dull, gritty, aching, or throbbing sensation. It will often go away on its own, but at times, it is a sign of something more serious.
Nearly everyone has eye pain at some point in their life. Discomfort or pain can be caused by a problem in the eye or structures around it. When the pain is severe, or if it is accompanied by a loss of vision, it may be a signal that you require immediate medical attention.
There are a number of causes (some more serious than others) that can be associated with eye pain. Some common causes include:
- Contact lens problem
- Corneal abrasion
- Dry eyes
- Foreign object
- Cluster headache
- Optic neuritis
- Pink eye
In addition to the eye pain, make sure to see an eye doctor if you have decreased vision, headache, nausea, or vomiting, as this may very well be a sign of something serious.
Self-treatment of eye pain commonly consists of flushing the eye with water. With a foreign object or chemical, it is important to thoroughly flush the eye with lukewarm tap water or commercially prepared eyewash solution.
If you suspect a foreign object in your eye, do not rub it. Rubbing it can seriously damage the eye by causing more damage to the surface. Do not attempt to remove the object from your eye. Other than eye irrigation, self-treatment is usually not recommended and should be reserved for medical professionals.
For mild cases of discomfort, rest your eyes, take over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen), and avoid any bright lights. Treatment from your eye doctor or at the emergency room will vary widely, from giving applying warm compresses for a sty or to emergency surgery for acute glaucoma. Depending on the condition, therapy is tailored to the cause o the eye pain.