Eye pain


The term “eye pain” summarizes all pains that affect the eye and the eye socket (orbit). Rarely, eye pain occurs alone, usually other symptoms such as red eyes, eye tears, blurred vision (deteriorated vision, appearance of double vision) and photosensitivity are observed.

With regard to the painful nature of eye pain, there are five types of pain that can already indicate the cause:

1. Pain in eye movements

… are caused by pulling on inflamed structures, for example in inflammation of the muscle sheaths of the eye muscles or inflammation of the nerve sheaths of the optic nerve. Motion pain in the eye is also typical for a flu effect or retrobulbar neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve).


2. Contact pain of the eyes

… occur in inflammation of the periosteum of the bony eye socket or the ligamentous apparatus of the eyes, for example, inflammation of the dermis of the eye (scleritis, episcleritis), the lacrimal gland (Dakryoadenitis) or the eyelid (“barley grain”, Hordeolum).

3. Pain in the eye socket (orbital pain)

… express themselves as a constant pain sitting deep behind the eye; it is caused by inflammatory diseases of the eye socket, a hemorrhage behind the eyeball or cancer of the lacrimal gland (lacrimal gland cancer).

4. Pain on the eyeball (bulbus pain)

… are the most common form of pain on the eye. The triggers are various causes, for example:

  • irritation and inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) or cornea (keratitis) due to infection or allergies
  • Injury or inflammation of the eyeball
  • Pain when adjusting the eye to different distances (accommodation pain) is caused by inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body (iridocyclitis)
  • Irritation of the ciliary body by increasing intraocular pressure in glaucoma (Green Star)
  • Foreign body with abrasion (erosion) of the cornea
  • Strong light effect, which leads to the inflammation of the cornea (keratitis photoelectrica, “blindness”, “snow blindness”), for example during welding, ski tours, in the solarium
  • Chemical burns of the eye, such as gypsum, concrete, acidic and alkaline solutions
  • Contact lenses that cause dryness, abrasion (erosion) of the cornea, infection or abscess
  • Excessive strain on the eyes during strenuous close work, much reading or poorly corrected visual defects (too weak or strong glasses): tired, burning, aching eyes, occasionally reaching pain into the eye socket and forehead, blurred vision, double vision; occurs preferably towards evening.

5. Pain of other origin radiating into the eye socket :

  • migraine
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: extremely painful irritation of the 5th cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve)
  • Diseases in the cavernous sinus, an enlarged venous space in the hard meningeal area at the base of the skull, are often associated with eye muscle paralysis.

Diagnosis of eye pain

For eye pain, the ophthalmologist is the right contact person. In the context of the anamnesis, he first asks what type of complaints are, when they first appeared in which context, and which pre-existing conditions exist.

He then carries out various eye examinations, for example visual acuity test, slit lamp microscopy (examination of the eye with multiple magnifications), measurement of intraocular pressure, determination of tear tear time and reflection of the eye and the fundus, especially the retina and its blood vessels (ophthalmoscopy).

Therapy of eye pain

Which treatment for eye pain has to be initiated depends essentially on the underlying cause. Over-exertion of the eye can often be improved by correcting the lenses or contact lenses. If contact lenses are incompatible, they can either be replaced or replaced with glasses. A laser treatment or the use of artificial lenses may also be an option.

A foreign body in the eye is removed, chemical substances are, as far as possible, thoroughly rinsed out. Dry eye complaints can often be alleviated by using artificial tears. Inflammation due to infection can be treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and decongestants (cortisone) in the form of ointments, eye drops or tablets. In glaucoma (cataract), the intraocular pressure is lowered by medication. In some diseases, surgery is inevitable, such as a tumor.