Pain behind your eye


When we talk about pain, it doesn’t necessarily describe just one type of sensation. Pain behind the eyes can be dull or sharp and piercing. It can come on gradually or appear suddenly. You might feel it above just one eye, across both or it can feel more like a deep headache.

Depending on the root cause of the pain or headache behind your eyes, you may notice some other symptoms including: ¹

  • Eye redness
  • Watery or teary eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain when you move your eyes
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Double vision
  • Fever
  • Sinus pressure

Causes of pain behind the eye

There are several types of uveitis. The type of uveitis
you have Eye pain can be a symptom of many different issues. These could be related to problems with your eyes, or something else. Often the type of pain,the level of intensity, and where you feel it, can help to pinpoint the cause.

Eye-related causes

Poor vision can often be the root cause of headaches.
It could be due to:

  • short-sightedness (distant objects look blurry)
  • long-sightedness (close objects look blurry)
  • astigmatism (things look blurry and distorted near or far)
  • presbyopia (short-sightedness related to ageing)

If you are not wearing corrective lenses or they’re not the right strength for you, your brain and your eyes have to work extra hard to focus. You may also squint when you’re trying to look at an object or read. These factors can cause a headache between the eyes or behind the eyes.

Another cause of pain behind your eye could be scleritis which is inflammation of the sclera, the tough outer coating of your eyeball. This swelling may cause you to feel a stabbing pain at the back of your eye which is triggered or can feel worse when
you move your eye. You may also notice redness
and sensitivity to light.

Optic neuritis is an infection in the optic nerve (the cable that carries visual information between the eye and the brain). It tends to start with pain in or around your eye, especially when you move your eye, but the main symptom is a sudden decrease in vision. You may also develop a blind spot and find that colours look less vivid in the affected eye.

Non eye-related causes

There are also several non-eye related reasons that you may
be experiencing pain behind your eyes.

Sinus inflammation (sinusitis)² is when the tissue lining your sinuses (the four cavities behind your face that drain your nose to keep it clean and bacteria free) is inflamed. When the sinuses get blocked and become infected and inflamed, it causes pressure to build up behind your eyes. A common cold or nasal allergies can sometimes turn into a sinus infection.

It’s common to feel eye pain when you have a migraine.
A migraine is a headache that causes severe throbbing or pulsing pain in your head, usually on one side. You may also feel sick, vomit and be extremely sensitive to light and noise, experience temporary vision disturbances or even loss of vision
(called an aura).

Cluster headaches are a rare condition that involve attacks
of headaches and intense pain usually centered around one eye. They usually happen daily at the same time for several weeks or months at a time. Other symptoms may include
red or watery eyes, drooping or swelling around one eye,
a sweaty, pale or flushed face, restlessness, a stuffy or
runny nose.

Migraines and cluster headaches are the most common cause of a headache above the right eye.

Brain Aneurysm

If you have a pain or a headache behind the left eye, it could possibly indicate a brain aneurysm.³ This happens when the wall of a blood vessel in your head is weak and the pressure of the blood passing along it causes it to bulge. If it presses on nerves or other tissue it can cause pain and headaches. You may also notice vision problems, numbness or weakness on one side of your face, balance or speech problems. You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any or a combination of these symptoms.

In rare cases, the wall of the blood vessel can rupture (burst). Symptoms include a sudden and blinding headache like being hit on the head, nausea and vomiting, neck pain, confusion, and loss of consciousness. A ruptured brain aneurysm can cause long-term brain damage and even death. You should call an ambulance immediately for emergency medical treatment if you suffer from any or a combination of these symptoms.⁴


If you have an ache behind your eye there are many options to help. Treatment will depend on the cause. Sometimes it may not be possible to find
the source of the pain. Treatments for the most
common causes include:


Eye-related causes

  • Poor Vision: using the right vision aids and the correct prescription and using enough light for reading
    or any detailed activity
  • Scleritis: oral or topical steroids, immunosuppressive drugs
  • Optic Neuritis: steroids, immunosuppressive drugs


Non eye-related causes

  • Sinus Inflammation: saline sprays, decongestants, allergy medication and pain medication
  • Migraines and Cluster Headaches: avoiding triggers and over the counter or prescription pain medications
  • Unruptured Brain Aneurysm: preventative surgery or procedures (only if high risk of rupture)
  • Ruptured Brain Aneurysm: this requires emergency medical treatment and possibly long-term rehabilitation


Are you struggling with
Pain behind the eye?

It’s always best to get these things checked,
and our expert team are on hand to help.

Book an eye test

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