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Eye Pain

Eye pain can affect one or both eyes. You can have eye pain because of things like injuries, inflammation, and infections. Sometimes eye pain can be a sign of an underlying health problem or injury. Common eye pain issues are:

  • Pink eye.
  • Allergies.
  • Corneal abrasion (eye scratch).
  • Styes.
  • Eyelid swelling.
  • Contact lens problems.
  • Possible foreign body.


Many conditions and factors can cause eye pain. These can include:

  • Infections: You can transfer viruses, bacteria, or fungi from your hands to your eyes when you rub them or put your hands near your eyes. Infections can also spread from areas on your body (like the nose or sinuses) to your eyes.
  • Contact lenses: Lenses that are dirty or that don’t fit well can cause pain in your eyes. Wearing contact lenses longer than prescribed (overnight) or not replacing them appropriately can also lead to eye problems. 
  • Allergies: If you’re allergic to pollen, dust or animals, your eyes can become irritated, itchy, and even painful.
  • Toxins: Your eyes can become irritated from exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollutants, chlorine in a swimming pool, or other types of hazardous chemicals.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation, an immune system response, can cause swelling or color changes in your eye. The white part of your eye can turn red, you can become very sensitive to light, and your eye can be painful.
  • Increased eye pressure: This can happen when the fluid in your eye doesn’t drain properly.


  • A gritty or sandy sensation (usually due to a foreign body in the eye).
  • Dull throbbing or pressure pushing against the eye from inside.
  • Swollen eye(s).
  • Stabbing or shooting pain in the eye.
  • Burning sensation in the eye.


The first step to treating eye pain is generally to determine the cause and then treat that cause. You may not need pain medications.

You can treat eye pain at home with over-the-counter eye drops, compresses, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.

For eye pain that doesn't go away, an Indigo clinician may prescribe:

  • Antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral eye drops.
  • Oral medications to reduce pain or allergy symptoms.

Tips for dealing with an eye injury:

  • Seek medical care as soon as possible.
  • Gently place a shield over your eye until you can get medical attention. You can make a shield from something as simple as the bottom of a paper cup that you can cut out and tape over your eye.
  • Unless you’ve had a chemical injury, don’t rinse your eyes with water.
  • Don’t try to remove an object that’s stuck in your eye.
  • Don’t rub your eye or apply pressure.

Should I go to Indigo?

If you have eye pain that is unexplained and doesn't resolve on its own, Indigo can diagnose your symptoms and recommend treatment. 

If you have eye pain along with any of the following symptoms, visit your nearest emergency department:

  • Vomiting.
  • Seeing halos around lights.
  • Feeling pressure.
  • Signs of bodily infection (such as fever or chills).
  • Blurred vision.
  • Bulging eyeballs.
  • Being unable to move your eyes through their normal range of motion.
  • A known foreign body or other injury.
  • Change in vision or inability to see.

How can we help?