Eye pain can occur on the surface of your eye or within your eye's deeper structures. Eye pain that's on the surface of your eye might be described as itching, burning or shooting pain. Surface eye pain is often related to a foreign object in your eye, an eye infection, or anything that irritates or inflames the membrane covering the surface of your eye.

You might describe eye pain originating deeper within your eye as throbbing or aching. This type of eye pain may be linked to a serious medical condition.

Severe eye pain — especially accompanied by any degree of vision loss — may be a signal that you need medical attention urgently.

Call 911 or for emergency medical assistance
Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Your eye pain is unusually severe
  • Your vision changes suddenly or you have difficulty seeing clearly
  • Your eye is too painful to touch
  • You experience abdominal pain or vomiting along with your eye pain
  • Your eye pain is caused by a foreign object or chemical splashed in your eye
  • You see halos around lights
  • Your eye bulges outward
  • You have trouble moving your eye

If you have eye pain and you wear soft contact lenses, have a weakened immune system or your eye pain is worse after using medication for three days, you should also seek medical attention.

Mar. 01, 2013