Eye pain when blinking may occur in the whole eye or only in some parts of the eye such as in the corner or in the eyelid. Some pain may be subtle and tolerable but some may require immediate medical attention.
Dirt and sand are some of the common causes of eye pain when blinking. However, it may also be caused by serious injury or a medical condition such as:
Acute trauma. Scratches to the cornea are commonly caused by touching or too much rubbing of the eye. The eye may also be injured by overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or from certain chemicals.
Three types of chemical burns that can happen upon contact with the eye are:
Alkali burns: These are the most critical type of burn. It is often caused by ammonia, lime, caustic soda, or other cleaning products.
Acid burns: These are burns caused by vinegar or other types of polish with hydrofluoric acid which are not as severe as alkali burns.
Irritants: Detergents or pepper spray can temporarily damage the eye and cause light burns.
Conjunctivitis. This is the inflammation of the transparent membrane on the white part of the eye. Blood vessels can become distended and make blinking painful.
Optic neuritis. This is a condition where the optic nerve is inflamed. It causes temporary vision loss, difficulty discerning colors, and pain when the eyes and eyelids move.
Keratitis. This refers to a corneal infection that causes pain, light sensitivity, and a sandy feeling in the eye.
Other causes of eye pain when blinking also includes sinusitis, Graves’ disease, dry eye syndrome, tear duct infection, blepharitis, corneal ulcer, and stye.
Pain treatment may depend on its cause but general treatments may include:
- Eye drops to ease discomfort and prevent infections
- Medication to reduce pain, treat light burns, prevent infection, and relax the eye muscles
- Rinsing the eye to flush out any residue of the chemical that came in contact with the eye
- Using cold compress to relieve irritation
- Removing contact lenses and makeup until symptoms completely disappear
- Using warm compress several times a day to decrease swelling.
Staying hydrated, reducing screen time, and reducing caffeine consumption may also help to reduce symptoms of the underlying conditions such as dry eyes that cause pain when blinking.
A doctor should be consulted immediately if further symptoms including severe headaches, loss of vision, and sensitivity of light occur. A physician’s advice is needed to develop the best course of treatment for this condition. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.