Pain behind the eyes is a common, nonspecific symptom with myriad possible causes. This type of eye pain can range from dull to intense and can sometimes be accompanied by tearing, vision changes, redness, light sensitivity, numbness, sinus pressure, or pain during eye movement. Pain behind the eyes may be caused by a problem inside your eyes or a condition affecting the surrounding tissue of the face. Here are the possible causes of pain behind the eye.

Migraine and Other Types of Headaches

Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches may cause pain around the eye. Migraines in particular are often associated with a feeling of pain or pressure behind one eye. Migraines can also include visual disturbances like zigzag lines, shimmering lights, and flashes of light. These may worsen with exposure to strong smells, sounds, or movement. Other symptoms of migraines include nausea, vomiting, pulsing pain, and sensitivity to light.

Sinus Infection

Sinus infection, or sinusitis, happens when viruses or bacteria get into the space behind your eyes, nose, and cheeks. The invaders cause inflammation of the sinuses and pain around the eyes. Usually, the pain gets worse throughout the day. Other symptoms include:

  • Thick, discolored nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Facial headaches
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus drainage
  • Impaired sense of smell

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye is a common condition in which your tears aren’t able to adequately lubricate your eyes. Dry eyes can cause itching and burning, light sensitivity, blurry vision, and headaches, which can lead to pain behind your eyes.

Problems with Vision

If you have vision problems such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or presbyopia, you are more prone to develop eye pain. The pain isn’t caused by the vision problem itself, but by your brain working harder to compensate for your compromised vision. Intense focusing and squinting cause a buildup of eye pain.

Eye Strain

Spending long hours staring at a screen, reading, driving, or being exposed to glare and poor lighting, may leave your eyes feeling tired, dry, and blurry. When your eyes get tired, the eye muscles contract too much. These contractions can trigger pain behind the eyes. Eye pain caused by straining usually goes away when you rest your eyes.

Dental Problems

Issues with the jaw could potentially lead to pain around and behind the eyes. Dental conditions that may cause pain behind the eye include temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder, bad bite, tooth infection, and teeth grinding. These problems may also cause tension of the muscles of your face, causing a headache and a feeling of pressure behind your eyes.

See Your Eye Doctor

Pain behind the eye can have many underlying causes. Most often, it isn’t tied to a serious illness, but in some instances, it can be a symptom of a more serious condition. If you’re experiencing moderate to severe eye pain, schedule an appointment with us today to get your annual comprehensive eye exam, diagnosis, and treatment.