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Causes Of Sudden Eye Pain

Sudden eye pain can be characterized as stabbing, burning, searing, or aching. While it can be related to benign causes, serious eye disorders cannot be ruled out until you get a comprehensive ophthalmology examination. Your eye doctor will implement an appropriate treatment plan once the source of your pain has been identified. Here are some causes of sudden eye pain and which treatment options your ophthalmologist may recommend. 

Optic Nerve Disease

One of the most common optic nerve disorders is glaucoma. Types of glaucoma include wide-angle and acute-angle, and while wide-angle can lead to vision loss, it usually does not cause pain. Conversely, acute-angle glaucoma can lead to severe and sudden eye pain that may be accompanied by blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, nausea, vomiting, and headache.

It is often treated with eye drops that lower intraocular pressure; however, in some cases, your eye doctor may recommend laser surgery to help facilitate drainage of excess fluid inside your eye. Glaucoma causes high intraocular pressure, which can lead to optic nerve damage. Once your intraocular pressure returns to normal, your eye pain will resolve; however, vision problems may remain. 


Uveitis causes inflammation of the uvea, which is the part of your eye that includes the ciliary body, iris, and the choroid. It may be caused by certain autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis or infections, ocular trauma, or tumors.

Symptoms of uveitis can develop suddenly and may include severe eye pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, vision loss, and seeing spots before your eyes, otherwise known as floaters. The symptoms of uveitis may be unilateral, or they may affect both of your eyes.

Treatment for uveitis typically includes anti-inflammatory eye drops, antibiotics if your uveitis is caused by a bacterial infection, and corticosteroid medications. It is important to see your eye doctor at the first sign of uveitis.

Failure to treat the early symptoms of uveitis may result in optic nerve damage, macular disorders, glaucoma, cataracts, a detached retina, and, in some cases, total vision loss. Uveitis-related complications may be more common in aging adults and people who have chronic uveitis; however, they can occur in younger people and those with acute uveitis.

If you develop sudden eye pain, visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent complications such as an increase in pain, a detached retina, glaucoma, and permanent vision loss.