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Pain in the Eye

Published: November 24, 2020

Welcome to our guide on eye pain.

This guide will offer helpful information while you are awaiting further evaluation, or to supplement what you may have already learned after evaluation by your doctor. Please keep in mind that this guide cannot replace a face-to-face evaluation with your own health care provider.

First, we will try to determine if what you have is conjunctivitis (pinkeye). Conjunctivitis can feel uncomfortable. The surface of the eye may be itchy or irritated and the white part of the eye often turns red. Actual pain is not common with simple conjunctivitis.

My eye is

Painful

Irritated or itchy but not painful

If one or both of your eyes are irritated or itchy and red, then you may have conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection or allergy. Chemical exposure and bacterial infection are also possible.

Bacterial conjunctivitis needs treatment with antibiotics. Viral conjunctivitis will usually get better without specific therapy. However, it can be difficult to determine whether the infection is bacterial or viral without an examination by a health professional. Avoid touching the eye because viral conjunctivitis can be contagious.

Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with non-prescription antihistamine eye drops or oral antihistamine pills.

Mild eye discomfort can be treated at home by resting your eyes and avoiding bright lights.

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