pain behind eye
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 18, 2024 ·  8 min read

Causes of Pain Behind Your Eyes & How to Make it Stop

Experiencing pain behind the eyes can be a discomforting and worrying sensation. Understanding the root causes of this pain and knowing how to alleviate it is crucial for maintaining eye health and overall well-being. In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons for pain behind the eyes and discuss effective methods for managing and preventing it.

Pain behind the eyes can stem from various causes, ranging from benign issues like dry eye syndrome to more serious conditions like aneurysms and glaucoma. Understanding the underlying reasons for this discomfort and employing suitable treatments and preventive measures is key to managing and alleviating eye pain. By being proactive in addressing potential triggers and seeking appropriate medical advice, individuals can work towards ensuring good eye health and minimizing the impact of eye pain on their daily lives.

What Causes Pain Behind the Eye?

Tired young man feel pain eyestrain holding glasses rubbing dry irritated eyes fatigued from computer work, stressed man suffer from headache bad vision sight problem sit at home table using laptop
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Pain behind the eye is exactly as it sounds: A pain that feels like it is coming from behind your eye. The pain can be sharp or dull, and it may come and go. It can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as blurred vision, eye redness, tearing, or sensitivity to light. Pain behind the eye is often caused by a variety of factors including (1):

Read More: 8 Surprising Triggers You Didn’t Know Were Causing You Headaches


Sinusitis, frontitis. Female face with inflammation of mucous membrane of paranasal and frontal sinuses
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Sinusitis, or inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, can lead to pressure and pain around the eyes due to the close proximity of the sinuses to the eye sockets. Sinusitis usually occurs when the sinuses become blocked and infected with bacteria or viruses. This can happen when you have a cold, allergies, or other respiratory infections. (2)

Vision problems

Cherry blossom, Optic health care concept. Medical optics concept with glasses. vision glasses
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Straining or overexertion of the eyes due to conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism can cause discomfort and pain behind the eyes. If you think you are experiencing vision problems, it is important to visit your optometrist as soon as possible. They can determine if you need vision support (glasses, contact lenses, etc) and help determine the reason your vision is suffering.

Dry eye syndrome

Overworked tired african female student worker holding glasses feel eye strain fatigue after computer work, mixed race woman suffer from pain in dry irritated eyes, bad blurry vision eyesight problem
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Insufficient lubrication of the eyes due to reduced tear production or increased tear evaporation may result in eye pain and irritation. Some causes for dry eyes include (3):

  • Eye strain: Working on a computer for long periods of time without taking breaks can cause eye strain, which may result in pain behind the eyes. 
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions to substances like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold spores can cause redness and itching in the eyes as well as other symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose. 
  • Age: As you get older, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible and may not focus as well. This can cause eye strain and pain behind the eyes. 
  • Hormonal changes: Women who are pregnant or going through menopause may experience dry eyes due to changes in their hormone levels.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems can affect blood flow to the eyes causing straining and dryness.
  • Medications: Certain medications can cause dry eyes, which may result in pain behind the eyes. These include antihistamines, decongestants, and some blood pressure medications.


Red bloodshot eyes in a middle aged man
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This inflammation of the sclera, the white outer layer of the eye, can cause deep, severe eye pain and is commonly associated with other autoimmune diseases. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome. (4)

Optic neuritis

A man suffers from pain in the eye. Patient with ophthalmic disease, uveitis, optic neuritis, conjunctivitis, or eye injury
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Inflammation of the optic nerve can lead to pain behind the eyes, often accompanied by vision problems. Optic neuritis occurs when the immune system attacks the optic nerve, which carries visual information from your eyes to your brain. This condition is often associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). (5)

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Stress, migraine and motion blur with a business man in a meeting feeling frustrated, tired or overworked. Mental health, anxiety and headache with an exhausted male employee suffering from fatigue
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Migraines can cause intense throbbing pain behind the eyes, often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are different from headaches in that they are usually preceded by an aura, which is a warning sign that a migraine is coming. The aura can include visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzag lines. Migraines are more common in women than men and tend to run in families. (6)

Ocular migraines

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Ocular migraines are when you have a migraine that affects only one eye. This can cause temporary blindness in the affected eye, but it usually goes away within an hour or so. Ocular migraines are more common in women than men and tend to run in families. (7)

Cluster headaches

Young woman touching her temples and suffering from head pain, headache or migraine
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Intense, piercing pain behind one eye, often accompanied by restlessness and agitation, can be a symptom of cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are a type of headache that occurs in groups, or clusters, over a period of time. They are more common in men than women and tend to run in families. Cluster headaches can cause severe pain on one side of the head, often behind the eye. The pain may last from 15 minutes to three hours and usually occurs at the same time each day during an attack. (8)


MRA brain or Magnetic resonance angiography of cerebral artery in the brain with habd doctor pointed out that abnormal blood vessels in the brain.Medical and healthcare concept.Selective focus.
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In some cases, a bulging blood vessel (aneurysm) in the brain can cause a sudden, severe headache and pain behind the eyes. Aneurysms are extremely dangerous because they can rupture and cause a hemorrhage (bleeding) in the brain. This can lead to stroke or death. If you have a sudden, severe headache that comes on quickly and is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or confusion, call 911 immediately. (9)


Outer view of nodule shaped style- chalazion on the lower eyelid of child. Papilledema ,selective focus.
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Swelling of the optic nerve due to increased pressure within the skull can result in pain behind the eyes, often accompanied by vision changes. This condition is called papilledema and can be caused by a brain tumor, infection or other medical condition. If you have pain behind your eyes and notice any changes in vision, call 911 immediately. (10)


Cataract concept. Senior woman's eye, closeup
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Increased pressure within the eye can lead to eye pain and, if left untreated, potential vision loss. This condition is called glaucoma and can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, family history and certain medical conditions. (11)

Read More: 8 Things Your Eyes May be Trying to Tell You About Your Health

How to Treat Pain Behind the Eye

Tired Exhausted Eye Pain And Ache Problem
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How you choose to treat your eye pain will be different depending on what kind of pain it is and what the underlying cause is. Often, you will want to use certain remedies to treat the pain itself, and then combine it with another approach that addresses the reason the pain started in the first place. This will ensure that the pain doesn’t return. The following are a variety of options for treating pain behind the eyes:

1. 5-HTP

Doctors Best 5-HTP Enhanced in hand. 5HTP opened bottle with vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Veggie Caps, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Isolated white background - KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - 03.07.2020
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This supplement may help alleviate migraines and associated eye pain by regulating serotonin levels in the brain. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep. 5-HTP can also be used to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia and fibromyalgia. It is available in pill form at most health food stores. (12)

2. CoQ10

Q10, Coenzyme, COQ10 supplements for human health. Doctor recommends taking COQ10. doctor talks about Benefits of Q10, copper. Essential vitamins and minerals for humans. Coenzyme q10 Health Concept.
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Coenzyme Q10 has been suggested to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, potentially relieving eye pain.  It is a naturally occurring compound that helps cells produce energy. It can be found in foods such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs. CoQ10 is also available as a supplement at most health food stores.  (13)

3. Magnesium

Products containing magnesium: bananas, pumpkin seeds, blue poppy seed, cashew nuts, beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, buckwheat, peanuts, pistachios, dark chocolate and sesame seeds
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Adequate magnesium levels can support overall nerve function and may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Magnesium is a mineral that helps regulate nerve function and muscle contractions. It can be found in foods such as spinach, black beans, almonds and cashews. Magnesium is also available as a supplement at most health food stores.  (14)

4. Detect and Eliminate Food Allergies/Intolerances

Allergy food concept. Food on wooden table
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Identifying and avoiding trigger foods can prevent migraines and associated eye pain. Common dietary triggers include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, aged cheeses and processed meats. If you suspect that a particular food is causing your migraines, try eliminating it from your diet for a few weeks to see if the symptoms improve. If they do, reintroduce the food slowly and monitor how you feel after eating it.

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5. Low-glycemic diet

Foods with low glycemic index on gray background. Healthy food concept. Top view, flat lay
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Stabilizing blood sugar levels by consuming low-glycemic foods may help in preventing migraines and subsequent eye pain. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood sugar to spike, while those with a low glycemic index cause it to rise more slowly. A low-glycemic diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent migraines and associated eye pain. (15)

6. Acupuncture and acupressure

The doctor sticks needles into the girl's body on the acupuncture
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These traditional practices can be effective in alleviating migraines and eye discomfort by targeting specific pressure points. Acupuncture is a Chinese practice that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupressure is similar, but instead of using needles, pressure is applied to these same points. Both methods are thought to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and reduce pain. (16)

7. Exercise and Yoga

Smiling Asian woman doing yoga shoulder stretching online class from laptop at home in living room. Self isolation and workout at home during COVID-19.
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Regular physical activity and stress-reducing practices like yoga can potentially reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, leading to reduced eye pain. Exercise can help to reduce stress, which is a common trigger for migraines. It also increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the body, which may help to reduce pain. Yoga is another form of exercise that can be beneficial for people with migraines because it helps to relax muscles and reduce tension in the body. (17)

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When to See a Doctor for Eye Pain

A female doctor sits at her desk and chats to a female patient while looking at his test results
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While it is possible to manage and get rid of eye pain on your own at home, it is not always advisable. It is crucial to seek medical attention if eye pain is persistent, severe, or accompanied by symptoms such as vision changes, fever, or neurological disturbances. As already mentioned above, sometimes the underlying cause of the pain can be something truly serious. Also, contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • See halos around lights
  • The pain behind the eye is strangely severe
  • You suddenly have problems seeing clearly
  • Your eye is very painful to touch
  • The eye appears to bulge outward
  • Moving the eye is difficult
  • Eye pain is accompanied by vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Eye pain is caused by a chemical or a foreign object

How to Prevent Eye Pain

Portrait Of Female Doctor Comforting Depressed Patient
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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and addressing any underlying conditions such as migraines, vision problems, or sinus issues can contribute to preventing eye pain. Regular medical check-ups will also help to catch any illnesses or conditions early before they become a serious problem.

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