Pain Behind Eye: Common Causes and Natural Treatments

Pain Behind Eye

A sharp pain behind the eye can be discomforting. Is the pain behind the eye, a serious concern? The reason for this pain needs to be determined systematically, as the pain could be the root of a grander problem.

The pressure behind the eye can leave you feeling droopy, tearing, and can be accompanied by redness, contracted pupils, numbness, stuffy nose, and more. Once the root causes are figured out, then some home remedies can be adopted to ease out the stifling pain.

What Causes Pain Behind the Eye?

The pain behind the eye, might not be pressing, it could be an understandable reaction to pressure. But, to comprehend the gravity of persistent headaches and the sharp pain behind the eyes, it is important to drill down to the root of the problem.

1. Sinusitis

An inflammation of the sinuses, known as sinusitis, can cause pressure and pain behind the eyes and cheek bones. Sinusitis symptoms are inclusive of fatigue, fever, stuffy nose, green or yellow nasal discharge, toothaches, and facial tenderness. A respiratory infection, or environmental or food allergies, is known to trigger off the sinusitis.

2. Infections and Tumors

Brain tumors, encephalitis (inflammation), abscesses, or infections are possible causes of the sharp pain behind the eye. The blood vessels and nerves destruction near the eyes due to the cancerous processes of the brain tumors, infections, and abscesses could cause immense pain.

3. Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (DES), also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), or dry eyes is a common condition. There are reportedly around 17% to 30% of people who suffer from DES. If this condition is left untreated, then it can lead to headaches, pain behind the eye, and sensitivity to light (1).

4. Scleritis

Scleritis (Scleral inflammation) is a chronic inflammatory condition and is hallmarked by pain behind the eye. The condition can be destructive to the eye and can cause intense pain behind the eye with movement. Scleral inflammation can manifest from inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis (2).

5. Cluster Headaches

A Cluster headache (CH) is a stabbing one-sided head pain (3). Also, known as a histamine headache, the pain is at its peak five to ten minutes after it starts and is known to last anywhere between a half hour and two hours. The condition can lead to waking up in the middle of the night and is featured with intense pain behind the eye socket. The cluster headaches are known to disappear for few weeks or even months and then just reoccur.

The sudden release of histamine or serotonin can trigger off the pain. Nitrates, heat, smoking, alcohol, bright light, and specific medications can set off the condition.

6. Eye Migraine

An eye migraine is also known as basilar, ophthalmoplegic, ophthalmic, retinal, or an ocular migraine and usually affects youth and kids. The one-sided eye pain, which usually lasts for less than an hour, can be accompanied by a feeling of nausea or congestion. The other symptoms include dilated pupils, double vision, or drooping eyelids.

7. Papilloedema

Papilloedema is a condition in which the optic disc begins to swell bilaterally due to the collection of excess fluid or intracranial pressure (4). The unilateral presentations are a rarity.

The condition is caused due to inflammation, hemorrhages, and brain tumors, and can trigger headaches. Coughing and sneezing worsen the situation. Lying down is recommended in most cases. The other symptoms are sharp pain in the eye, double or blurred vision.

8. Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm could be another root to the pressure behind the eyes, which occurs when there is a hemorrhagic stroke or bleeding due to ruptured blood vessels in the brain.

An aneurysm could trigger off due to a weak artery wall or blood vessels in the brain. The strokes are subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which leads to stabbing pain behind the eye and unbearable headaches.

9. Optic Neuritis

Optic Neuritis is a medical condition in which there is an inflammation observed in the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for communicating the visual information from the eye to the brain. The Optic neuritis condition triggers off severe pain behind the eye with movement and also leads to temporary vision loss.

10. Glaucoma

Glaucoma could set off excruciating pain behind the eye. It is known to occur with increased intraocular pressure. The pain is triggered off when the pressure from one of the eyes swells, which can also lead to a substantial injury like damaging peripheral vision or the optic nerve. The severity of the condition could also result in vision loss.

Some other symptoms of glaucoma are inclusive of nausea, mild headaches, blurry vision, watery eyes, and swollen eyelids. Nutritional deficiencies, hypertension, or diabetes are roots to the occurrence of Glaucoma.

Natural Treatments for Pain Behind Eye

Treating the pain behind the eyes is essential, and the treatment will be entirely dependent on the ground cause.

You can try out various treatment options, some of which can be tried at home, while with more severity medical intervention may be required.

1. Maintain Healthy Lifestyle

A few simple basics can keep the headaches at bay, and these include getting adequate rest and embracing a balanced intake of food. Dehydration is a leading cause of headaches, so keep hydrated. Try and regulate the intake of processed foods and avoid alcohol, smoking, and medications that are known to cause hormone changes.

2. Right Eye Care, Exercise, and Yoga

Systematic eye exercises can help to strengthen eye muscles, and this must be backed up by visiting the eye doctor for regular checkups.

Regular exercise and yoga can help lessen the pain behind the eyes. There are several yoga poses, which can also reduce headaches and sinusitis, and this includes yoga poses like bridge pose, big toe pose, dolphin pose, and the downward-facing dog pose. Some other yoga poses which help ease sinusitis include camel pose, cobra pose, and cow’s face pace.

Traditional yoga practices have long-established the use of a ceramic pot called the neti pot, to reduce the pain behind the eyes. The neti pot facilitates a saline wash to clear off the nasal passages.

3. Acupuncture and Acupressure

You can try using acupressure and acupuncture to alleviate migraine headaches. A leading resource for systematic reviews in healthcare, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), in 2009 presented a systematic review on the role of acupuncture in relieving migraine.

A few acupressure points have shown to relieve pain behind the eyes, which is related to sinusitis, glaucoma, and headaches.

4. Consume Low Glycemic Index Foods

Hypoglycaemic headaches and migraine can be set off by Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose or low blood sugar). The intake of high-glycemic-index carbs can be the reason for low blood sugar levels. A balanced intake of low-glycemic-index food can maintain blood sugar levels and reduce migraines. The low glycemic foods are inclusive of:

  • Avocados
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery and more

5. Maintain Magnesium Intake

The individuals who suffer from a migraine are known to have a magnesium deficiency. There are various studies which have observed the intake of magnesium facilitating the treatment of migraine headaches. Magnesium is also found to relax blood vessel walls and improve the blood flow to the eyes in glaucoma sufferers.

6. Eliminate Food Allergies

Food allergies and intolerances can set off migraine headaches. There are many scientific evidence-based studies, which have found that removal of allergenic or intolerable foods can lessen a headache and symptoms like pain behind the eyes. Tests like Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a bio-meridian test, can test food allergies.

7. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

Various studies have observed the use of a natural painkiller, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to prevent migraine headaches and treat tension. 5-HTP stimulates the circulation in the blood vessels of the brain.

The journal, European Neurology, in 1986, published a double-blind study of 5-HTP in the context of migraine headaches and found that intake of 5-HTP reduced the frequency of headaches by nearly 50%. Approximately 71% of patients experienced improved migraine headache symptoms.

How to Prevent the Pain Behind Eyes

Are there any other ways to avoid pain behind the eyes? You can follow some simple ways which can facilitate the lessening of pain behind the eyes.

  • Remember to clean your contact lenses thoroughly. Avoid wearing contact lenses for extended periods.
  • Keep away from the chemicals like pest control spray, detergents, and household cleaners
  • Some simple changes in work habits can go a long way, and these include making changes to your computer screen, placing the screen at least 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes, and keeping a little below eye level. Try and clean off the fingerprints and dust from the screen and consider using a glare filter over the screen.
  • A few changes to the work environment can also help in taking care of your eyes, and these include making sure that lighting is not directly behind or on the computer screen. You can consider using an adjustable chair.

When to Call Your Doctor

Should you call the doctor right away when the sharp pain behind the eyes persists? Checks for these symptoms, if they persist consider contacting your doctor immediately. The symptoms include:

  • A severe pain behind the eye
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Sharp persisting heading
  • Having problems seeing clearly
  • Moving eyes with difficulty
  • Eye pain accompanied by vomiting
  • Eye pain caused by a chemical
  • Eyes bulging outwards
  • Painful to touch eyes
  • Eye pain accompanied by high fever
  • Loss of movement in any part of the body

It is best not to defer treating the sharp pain in the eye. Simple lifestyle changes and natural treatments can help to alleviate the pain behind the eye.

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Dr. Mark Williams, MD

Dr. Mark Williams is a leader in alternative and integrated medicines. He is a medical writer and reviewer at Daily Health Cures. He received his medical degree in 1988. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Daily Health Cures editorial team. He is a natural health advisor and provides a variety of alternative healing techniques in his practice.