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Diagnosing Eye Pain

woman suffering from eye painEye pain can have many sources. In some situations, the underlying cause may be obvious (e.g. an eye injury), but more often it is difficult to pinpoint the source of eye pain without a careful examination performed by an experienced ophthalmologist.

No matter what type of eye pain you are experiencing, you should see board-certified Dallas ophthalmologist Dr. Dain Brooks as soon as possible to rule out any potentially serious causes. Eye pain is not normal; you should never ignore it!

If you are currently experiencing pain in or around your eyes, call us today at (972) 736-9347 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brooks.

Eye Pain Severity Can Be Misleading

Your eye’s cornea is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. The density of sensory nerves in your cornea is up to 500 times that of your skin. This means that the severity of your pain may not indicate the seriousness of the problem. For example, a relatively minor problem – such as a corneal abrasion – can be very painful, whereas a major condition  may produce only mild discomfort or no pain at all.

Common types of eye pain include:

  • A sharp, stabbing sensation
  • A dull ache or throbbing
  • A foreign body sensation (the feeling that something is in your eye)
  • A burning sensation

Where is Your Eye Pain Located?

The location of your eye pain usually says more about its source than the severity. If your pain feels like it’s coming from the surface of the eye or even inside the eye, it might be caused by:

  • A corneal abrasion – When your cornea is scratched it can be very uncomfortable, causing watery eyes and light sensitivity as well as a gritty feeling in the eyes. As long as the abrasion is superficial it should heal on its own within 24 hours. However, deeper abrasions can potentially lead to eye infections or corneal ulcers if they are not treated.
  • A foreign body embedded in the surface of the cornea – If an actual foreign body has become trapped in your eye (e.g. grit, sand, metal shavings, or sawdust), it can cause a major eye infection.
  • Dry eye syndrome – This common condition often produces a burning sensation or a foreign body sensation, even though there is nothing in the eye. Dry eye syndrome occurs when there are not enough tears on the surface of your eye to keep the cornea moist.

If the pain is located behind your eye you may have a migraine headache or a sinus infection. Migraines usually produce pain behind a single eye, in addition to pain elsewhere on the same side of your head.

If you are experiencing pain located around your eyes you may have a style: a tender area on the eyelid caused by localized inflammation. A stye usually doesn’t require emergency attention; it can be treated by using warm compresses several times a day until it fades. Blepharitis (swollen eyelids) is another common cause of discomfort in and around the eyes. Dr. Brooks can help you control and treat this issue.

Ultimately, you should not trust yourself to diagnose your own eye pain. In order to protect your vision and general eye health, you should always seek a professional diagnosis from a qualified ophthalmologist.

Contact Brooks Eye Associates today or call (972) 736-9347 to schedule an appointment with our board-certified Dallas eye doctor Dain B. Brooks, MD. We serve patients in Plano, Frisco, and surrounding areas of Dallas, Texas.