Ear infections cause headaches

Eye pain

Brief overview

  • causes: E.g. overexertion or irritation of the eyes (e.g. from too much computer work or from drafts), foreign bodies in the eye, corneal damage, conjunctivitis, allergy, hailstones, stye, inflammation of the eyelids, sinusitis, headaches
  • When to the doctor If the eye pain does not improve or accompanying symptoms occur (e.g. fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, reduced visual acuity, bulging of the eye out of the eye socket, severe reddening).
  • treatment: Depending on the cause, e.g. with antibiotics, antivirals, allergy medication (antihistamines), decongestant nasal spray, adjustment of the visual aid, surgical intervention. In addition, symptomatic treatment with painkillers.
  • You can do that yourself: e.g. removing foreign bodies, (temporarily) avoiding contact lenses, relaxation exercises for the eyes, cold compresses

This is how eye pain expresses itself

Doctors distinguish three different types of eye pain:

  • Pain in the eye or in the eyeball
  • Pain in the eye or in the eye socket, forehead or lids
  • Pain when moving the eyes

The location of the eye pain can vary as well as its type: Some sufferers report unpleasant pain in the corner of their eyes or a sharp pain in the eye ("prick" in the eye). Others complain of throbbing pain in the eye or pain over the eye.

Eye pain: accompanying symptoms

Eye pain often does not occur on its own. For example, a stinging eye and a headache can go hand in hand. Common accompanying symptoms include:

Eye pain: causes

If the eye stings or otherwise hurts, it is important to find the cause. The most common causes of eye pain are:

  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Injury to the cornea

But also various diseases can cause pain in the eye (unilateral or bilateral), for example:

  • Allergy (e.g. hay fever)
  • Stye
  • Hailstone
  • Inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis)
  • Lid abscess
  • Conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis)
  • Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis), corneal ulcer (corneal ulcer)
  • Inflammation of the middle skin of the eye (uveitis), which occurs in various forms (e.g. as iris inflammation)
  • Inflammation of the dermis (scleritis)
  • Inflammation of the lacrimal duct (canaliculitis) or the tear sac (dacryocystitis acuta)
  • Inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis)
  • Green star (glaucoma), e.g. acute angle closure glaucoma
  • Eye infection (e.g. ocular herpes)
  • Inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis)
  • unspecific inflammation in the eye socket (orbital pseudotumor)
  • Infection affecting the tissues in and around the eye socket and behind the eye (orbital cellulitis)
  • infectious inflammation of the inside of the eye (endophthalmitis)
  • Tumor diseases

Also Ear, nose and throat disorders or Diseases of the teeth and jaw can cause pain in the eyes due to their anatomical proximity. Various Forms of headache can also be associated with eye pain (tension headache, migraine, cluster headache).

It is not uncommon for the eye pain to be based on one Overexertion or irritation of the eyes for the following reasons:

  • incorrectly adjusted visual aid
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Drafts
  • UV radiation
  • long work on the screen

Diseases with this symptom

Find out here about the diseases that can cause the symptom:

Eye pain: when to see a doctor?

If the eye pain persists for a long time without any improvement, you should see an ophthalmologist. The same applies if you have particularly severe eye pain, if you experience a sudden sting in the eye, or if a foreign object in the eye is causing the pain. Apart from that, you should consult a doctor if one or more of the following symptoms occur in addition to eye pain:

  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • decreased visual acuity
  • Seeing halos around light sources
  • Bulging of the eyeball out of the eye socket (exophthalmos, "googly eye")
  • severe reddening of the eyes
  • fatigue

The inability to move the eye in all directions (such as right, left, up, and down) is also a warning sign. You should consult a doctor immediately!

Eye pain: examination and diagnosis

If you go to the doctor about sore eyes or a prick in the eye, he will first take a detailed discussion about your medical history (anamnesis). This is followed by various studies.


When taking your anamnesis, the doctor will ask you about your symptoms and any previous illnesses. Possible questions are, for example:

  • How long have you had the eye pain?
  • Are both eyes affected?
  • How would you describe the pain (for example: stitches in the eye, throbbing pain, pricking)?
  • Where exactly is the pain?
  • Does the eye hurt when you move the eyeball?
  • Are you sensitive to light?
  • Do you have additional symptoms such as a fever?
  • Have you had these complaints before?
  • Could a foreign object be causing the pain?
  • Has your eyesight changed?
  • Do you have any other illnesses?


A physical exam will follow. The doctor pays attention to changes in the eye, eyelids and eye socket, among other things. For example, he looks to see if the eyes are red and puffy. He also uses a small lamp to check the reaction of the pupils.

Other examination methods that can help clarify painful eyes are:

  • Eye test
  • Visual field examination
  • Slit lamp examination (to assess deeper eye sections)
  • Allergy test (if there is a suspicion)
  • Smear from the eye (if there is a suspicion of an infectious cause of the eye pain)

Imaging tests may also be helpful to get to the bottom of eye pain:

  • Computed tomography (CT), for example if a sinus infection is suspected
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for example if an optic nerve inflammation is suspected

Eye pain: treatment

purely symptomatic treatment - relief of eye pain - is with Pain relievers (analgesics) possible. So-called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to pain relievers (e.g. ibuprofen), are suitable. They are often used in the form of eye drops and some are available without a prescription. In the case of severe eye pain, it may be necessary to use an opium-containing pain reliever (prescription only!).

Sometimes the doctor also prescribes for sore eyes pupil dilating eye drops, for example with the active ingredient cyclopentolate. They are indicated, for example, in various eye infections such as corneal inflammation or iris inflammation (a form of anterior uveitis). The eye drops prevent the tissue layers involved from sticking together.

In addition, the cause of eye pain is treated whenever possible. This is how people with a bacterial infection around their eyes (such as bacterial conjunctivitis) eye drops or ointments containing antibiotics.

If the eye pain is caused by a viral infection (e.g. herpes infection of the eyes) anti-virus agents (Antivirals) like acyclovir accelerate healing. They are usually applied as eye drops or ointment.

If an inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis) causes eye pain, the attending physician will prescribe one decongestant nasal spray and expectorant.

If sore eyes are the result of an allergy, you should first try the Avoid allergens. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe so-called Antihistaminesin the form of tablets or eye drops. These are purely symptomatic measures. A causal treatment is means specific immunotherapy (Desensitization) possible, but only in certain cases.

Some eye pain causes require one surgical intervention. This can be the case with glaucoma, for example, if the drug treatment does not work sufficiently.

If glasses with the wrong prescription are causing eye pain, you must have them Readjust the visual aid to let. If wearing contact lenses is causing the eye pain, you should go without the lenses for a few days and the Protect your eyes.

Eye pain: you can do it yourself

You, too, can do something yourself in some cases of eye pain. For example is a superficial foreign body In the eye the cause of the eye pain, you can gently wipe it off the eye with a clean cloth. If toxins or chemicals are causing the pain, rinse the eye with clean water (unless it is caustic lime!). You can find out more about first aid measures in the article Foreign bodies in the eye.

If the foreign body is deep in the eye or if you have severe eye pain, you should leave the treatment to the doctor.

Regardless of the cause of the pain, your eyes should be Rest and relaxation indulge. Do not strain your sore eyes by watching TV, reading or working on the computer. Instead, you can Relaxation exercises for the eyes do:

  • Consciously take a close look at things at different distances (focus your eyes on each one!).
  • Occasionally cover your eyes with your hands and let them rest for a few minutes.
  • Place your thumbs on your temples and use your index fingers to massage the top of the eye socket (from the bridge of the nose outwards).
  • You should often close your eyes for a few seconds while working on the screen. You can also try to type a few sentences "blindly".

Eye pain: home remedies

Sore, red eyes can often be tolerated cool compresses calm down. To do this, dip clean cotton towels in cold water, wring them out and place them on the sore eye (s). Instead of water, you can also use cooled tea made from chamomile, calendula or sage. Leave the cool compress on your eyes for as long as you are comfortable.

Instead of damp cotton towels, you can also use a Grain pillow Place on the eyes (e.g. cherry stone pillow) that you have previously cooled in the freezer compartment. Or you use Cool packs. Do not put these directly on the reddened, painful eyes, but first wrap them in a cotton cloth.

The mechanism of action is the same in all cases: the coolness can dampen the pain in the eyes. However, take off the compress, the grain pillow or the cooling pack immediately if the coolness becomes uncomfortable.

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