Help and frequently asked questions

Why do I have pain behind my eyes?


There are many reasons why pain can develop in and around the eyes, whether it is a dull ache or stabbing pain. Here are some common conditions that cause pain behind the eyes.

What is referred pain?

If you are experiencing pain around you eyes, it may be referred pain. This means that it seems to come from the eyes but in reality, has its origin elsewhere.

What is a sinus headache?

The sinuses are a typical source of referred pain.If you also have a headache, or feel deep pressure above your nose and between your eyes, it may be that your sinuses are clogged. You may also have a stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, fatigue and nasal discharge. Sinus headaches typically get worse with movement, such as bending over or lying down. These can be treated with over-the-counter pain killers and decongestants, but if pain persists, consult your GP.

What is dry eye?

If you feel pain in, behind or around your eye, another potential cause is dry eye. This is where your cornea becomes dry as you do not create enough tears for lubrication.You may feel like your eyes are gritty, sandy, red, irritated or watery. Other people may not be blinking enough to spread tears. To treat this problem, try lubricating eye drops, particularly before you go to bed. If after a few days this does not resolve, consult your optometrist.

What is a subconjunctival haemorrhage?

The small, delicate blood vessels in the eye can sometimes break down beneath the conjunctiva (white of the eye) causing eye redness. It will not cause vision problems or significant discomfort. Pain killers can not cause changes to these blood vessels as is commonly believed. However, since eye redness can indicate more serious conditions, it is important to make an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible, as it could be an infection caused by a virus, bacteria or another microorganism.Your optometrist will discuss the best form of treatment with you, but this usually involves using lubricant or artificial tears to soothe the eyes. The redness will usually die down within a couple of weeks.

Would a refractive error cause pain?

If you have pain between your eyes and need to squint in order to read, there is a chance you have developed a refractive error and will require corrective lenses to improve your vision. Make an appointment with your optometrist for a vision test if this is the case.