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Eye pain • Identify & treat causes!

The term eye pain includes all pain that affects the eye and the eye socket (orbit). Rarely eye pain occurs alone, usually other symptoms such as reddening of the eyes, tears in the eyes, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light can be observed. Most of the time the cause lies in the eye itself, but there can also be serious other diseases behind a painful eye.

A slit lamp examination can find out the causes of eye pain.
© iStock.com/gilaxia

Almost everyone suffers from eye pain in the course of their lives: In Germany, general practitioners examine four to ten patients a week with eye problems. In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own. However, sudden, severe eye pain that does not go away or recur quickly after a short time should be clarified by a doctor.

Overview of article content:

Dry eyes: the best home remedies

Dry eyes: the best home remedies

Symptoms: This is how eye pain shows up

Eye pain is divided into two categories, which can often give first indications of the cause of the pain:

  • The ocular eye pain occurs on the surface of the eye. It is often described as itching, burning or itchy.

  • The orbital eye pain is felt in the eye socket and is often described as pulling, boring or throbbing.

Depending on the cause of the eye pain, other symptoms may also occur, including:

Causes of Eye Pain

The causes of eye pain can also be divided into the two categories mentioned above. The main causes of ocular eye pain are:

  • Conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis)

  • Foreign body in the eye

  • Irritation (e.g. from contact lenses)

  • Infection of the sebum glands (blepharitis)

  • stye

  • various corneal diseases (such as inflammation due to allergies or excessive exposure to light or chemical burns)

Orbital eye pain, on the other hand, is often one of these causes:

  • Glaucoma

  • Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)

  • Injuries in or on the eye

  • Inflammation of the iris (iritis)

  • Inflammation of the eye muscle (ocular myositis)

  • Tumors or pseudotumors of the eye socket

  • painful paralysis of the eye muscles (Tolosa-Hunt syndrome)

  • Purulent inflammation of the eye socket (orbitaphlegm)

In some cases, the pain also has another cause that radiates into the eye socket. Examples include:

Diagnosis of eye pain

If you have eye pain, the ophthalmologist is the right contact. As part of the patient's medical history, he asks numerous questions about the previous history, symptoms and current life situation – these include the following questions:

  • How long have the complaints existed?

  • How exactly do they express themselves? Has their shape or intensity changed?

  • Do you have any other symptoms besides eye pain?

  • Do you have previous illnesses and / or allergies?

  • Do you take any medicine?

  • Do you wear glasses or contact lenses?

  • Do you use alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs?

  • Are there eye diseases in the family?

The doctor then systematically examines the eye step by step. In doing so, it detects, for example, the visual acuity (visus), the intraocular pressure, the visual field, the mobility of the eyes, the width and the play of the pupils as well as the distance setting (accommodation). With a drop of fluorescein, scratches and certain infections on the cornea can be seen. The so-called "slit lamp" enables the eye to be displayed at multiple magnifications; if necessary, the fundus is also examined (fundus copy). The pupil is dilated with the help of eye drops.

If there is a suspicion of a dry eye, the amount of tear fluid is checked with the so-called "Schirmer test" and its quality by determining the tear tear time.

If there is an infection, the doctor takes a swab or secretion sample from the conjunctiva or cornea to determine the pathogen.

If there are no pathological changes to the eye or if the finding indicates an external cause, the eye doctor will refer the person concerned to another specialist, for example to an internist, neurologist, ENT, skin or dentist. Depending on the suspected diagnosis, further examinations are then carried out here. This can be, for example, an X-ray of the skull, an ultrasound examination of the paranasal sinuses or a neurological examination.

Treatment of eye pain

Which therapy has to be started for eye pain essentially depends on the underlying cause. Eye pain, such as occurs with migraines or a cold, can be alleviated by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication.

Overexertion of the eye can often be improved by regular breaks, relaxation techniques and / or a correction of the glasses or contact lenses. If contact lenses are incompatible, they can either be replaced or replaced with glasses. Laser treatment or the use of artificial lenses can also be considered.

In the event of a grain of barley or an infection of the sebum glands, warm compresses help to clear clogged sebum glands or hair follicles. Foreign bodies and chemical substances can be rinsed out with warm water or a saline solution, and the doctor often removes them under anesthetic using special instruments.

If there is conjunctivitis or corneal injuries, antibiotic eye drops are used, with glaucoma drops are prescribed to lower the intraocular pressure. Symptoms due to dry eyes can often be alleviated with the help of artificial tear fluid. Surgery is essential for some diseases, such as a tumor.

Prevention of eye pain

In most cases, fatigue is the cause of sore eyes. One of the most important and most underestimated preventive measures is therefore home care: This is to give your eyes regular breaks. Hours of work on the screen, watching TV and reading strain your eyes – to avoid overexertion, it is helpful to relax with your eyes covered for a few minutes on a regular basis.

Healthy eyes with pleasure
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