How to Treat Sharp Pain in the Eyes?
Eye Health Data Verified

Causes of Sharp Pain in the Eyes

Published on Aug 22, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 01, 2023   -  6 min read


Sharp pain in the eye is a frequently encountered phenomenon of multifactorial origin. Read the article below to know more causes of sharp pain in the eye.


Sharp pain or pain sensation of the eyes is a patient's most frequently encountered symptom. The pain of the eye may involve either the surface or deeper structures of the eye. The sharp eye pain might be a sign of a severe inapparent condition. Severe pain can sometimes eventually lead to vision loss.

What Are the Causes for Sharp Pain in the Eye?

The causes of sharp pain in the eyes are multifactorial. The eye region's pain can be of the following origin such as orbital, ocular, cranial, neurologic, and vascular origins.

What Are the Other Clinical Manifestations Associated With Sharp Pain of the Eye?

The characteristics of the sharp pain in the eye differ based on its origin. The pain experienced by patients can be of throbbing, sharp-shooting, piercing, aching, burning, or stabbing type.

Other associated symptoms linked with the sharp pain in the eye are:

  • Distorted vision.

  • Presence of foreign body sensation.

  • Decrease in visual acuity.

  • Excessive tearing.

  • Occasional redness of the eyes.

  • Sensitivity to light.

  • Double vision.

  • Radiation of the pain to other regions of the face pain in case of cranial conditions like sinusitis and cavernous sinus thrombosis.

  • Unilateral pain radiating to the head is observed in case of migraine and cluster headache.

  • Irritation of the eyes.

  • Bulge of the eyes.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Limitation of eye movement.

  • Halos around the light.

  • There is a complete or partial loss of vision.

  • Painful eye movement.

What Are the Techniques Used to Evaluate Sharp Pain in the Eyes?

Evaluation of the painful eye involves acquiring complete history from the patient, followed by a physical examination of the eyes and their surrounding structures, functional assessment, and imaging.

  • Questionnaires and surveys also estimate the intensity, duration, onset, and nature of the pain experienced by the patients.

  • Patients are enquired about the associated symptoms like sensitivity to light, headache, and complete medical and ocular history.

  • Physical examination of the different eye parts is conducted with the help of the slit-lamp technique, fundoscopy, ophthalmoscopy and fluorescent stains to determine any underlying ocular conditions.

  • Snellen's chart and kinetic red test perform a functional assessment of the eye function in case of narrow-angle glaucoma and keratitis. In addition, the available functional tests mainly determine the eyes' visual acuity and extraocular muscle movement.

  • Imaging like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) is performed in case of optic neuritis and abscess of the orbit. In addition, neuroimaging, confocal microscopy, and functional MRI are done in patients with neurogenic ophthalmic pain.

  • Lab tests such as C-reactive proteins and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) are done when inflammatory and infection conditions are suspected.

When Is the Right Time to Consult a Specialist About the Sharp Eye Pain?

Sometimes the sharp pain in the eye requires consultation with a specialist. The situations requiring specialist attention are:

  • Severe persistent eye pain.

  • Swelling eyes.

  • Redness of the eye.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Dark spots in the vision.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Double vision.

  • Inability to move eyes.

  • Pain is linked to a traumatic event.

  • Complete or partial loss of vision.

What Are the Different Management Approaches Used to Manage Sharp Eye Pain?

In persistent and severe pain of the eyes, it is essential to seek professional help. Initially, self-help tips are helpful.

  • A few self-help measures that are followed in the initial stages include:

  • Avoid repeated rubbing of the eyes.

  • In case of a foreign body presence in the eye, wash the eyes with clean water.

  • If dry eyes cause pain, administer eye drops.

  • Hands should be kept clean.

  • Avoid makeup during eye infections.

  • A clean towel is used to dry the face and eyes.

  • Warm compress.

  • Use of bandage contact lenses.

  • Professional help is sought in case of severe pain or underlying condition. The professional management of pain involves:

  • Topical opioid analgesics are given in severe pain conditions.

  • Vitamin B supplementations are essential while treating diabetic neuropathy and neurogenic pains.

  • Anticonvulsants are used in case of pain associated with neurologic conditions.

  • In case of management of removal of the basal disease linked to sharp eye pain is the foremost in treating acute eye pain.

  • Antibiotic eye drops usage in case of infections.

  • Topical steroids and anti-inflammatory drops are used to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • The pain associated with extremely severe or non-treatable conditions, the following approaches are recommended -

    • Surgery.

    • Laser.

Alternate therapies that are recommended in managing pain in the eye are:

What Are the Complications Linked to Sharp Pain in the Eye?

Untreated and chronic pain in the eye often leads to several other complications, such as -

  • Orbital cellulitis.

  • Endocarditis.

  • Visual impairment.

  • Blindness.

What Are the Conditions That Are Considered While Diagnosing Sharp Eye Pain?

A lot of conditions present with painful eyes, a few most common situations which also show exhibit sharp eye pain are:

What Is the End Outlook of Patients Suffering From Sharp Pain in the Eye?

Overall, eye conditions with sharp pain are entirely treatable with self-help, medical or surgical measures. However, the persistence of the state after a few hours of home treatments requires professional help.


Multiple factors cause sharp pain in the eye. In addition, there are several clinical features associated with acute eye pain. Even though most of the causes causing intense pain in the eye are treatable, early diagnosis and referral help in earlier management of the condition and prevent further complications.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
01 Dec 2023  -  6 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

My eyesight is getting worse due to pain in the corner of my left eye. What to do?

Query: Hi doctor, I am 19 years old. I have pain in the corner of my left eye for the past one year. I went to the doctor, and he gave me Sterdex. I used it and felt better. My pain went away. After a few months, I started to have pain, but it was not so severe as the first time. I wear glasses and lenses...  Read Full »

I have fever with headache and nasal congestion for eight days. Could it be COVID-19 or flu?

Query: Hi doctor, I have a fever for eight days. I have a highest temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. I also have headaches, eye pain, and nasal congestion. I suspect it to be a COVID-19. But I do not have a cough and loss of taste and smell sensation. I am taking Paracetamol for fever and it drops fo...  Read Full »

What is the ayurveda treatment for eye pain?

Query: Hi doctor, I am getting eye pain when I look into my mobile or computer. Please help.  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Eye Pain or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.