Eye pain can be uncomfortable enough to stop you in your tracks and inhibit even the simplest activity. Pain in the eyes can vary widely as to the type and can be located on either the surface of the eye or deeper within the tissue.
Almost everyone has experienced surface eye pain at some point or another: this is known as ocular pain, and is usually the result of debris or a foreign object getting in there, from dust to small objects that irritate the protective membranes surrounding the eye, or of an infection. The pain that results from these surface irritants and infections is most often an itching, burning, or shooting type; you may be able to feel there’s something in there, or have a sense of grittiness.
Conjunctivitis, inflammation of the thin membrane that protects the eyeball and lines the eyelid, can be caused by allergies, bacterial or viral infection, or chemical irritation. This kind of ocular pain often comes with itching, redness, and drainage; pink eye is the well-known name for it. The transparent surface of the eye, the cornea, may become damaged by abrasions, tiny scratches to its surface. These abrasions can also be caused by foreign objects.
A stye is an infection that most often appears on the edge of the eyelid as a lump which is tender to the touch. It’s caused by when the oil glands around the eyelash follicle become blocked, causing swelling and pain.
Eye pain that occurs within the deeper structures of the eye is known as orbital pain, and it’s usually caused by more serious issues. The pain is most often described as an ache or a throbbing sensation. Iritis, or inflammation of the iris at the center of the eye, results in pain felt deep in the eye. Optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve running all the way to the back of the eye socket often comes with pressure at the back of the eye as well as pain and difficulty seeing; this can have a number of causes, from multiple sclerosis to a viral or bacterial infection.
If you have severe or debilitating eye pain, or pain that lingers for an extended period of time, consult a medical professional.