What’s Causing That Sharp Pain in the Eye?

Sometimes, you’re watching TV or working at the computer, and a sudden sharp pain hits in your eye. You rub and blink, hoping for it to disappear, but nothing works. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.

A sharp pain in eye can accompany a wide variety of different medical conditions. In order to get to the bottom of why you’re having these symptoms, a professional medical examination is necessary. But how can you know which ones apply to you?

Keep reading to learn more about common eye pain causes and how they can be treated.

Corneal Abrasion

Corneal abrasion is a condition where the outer protective layer of the eye, the cornea, has been scratched or brushed. This causes sharp pain in the eye due to the nerves in the cornea being exposed to stimulation.

When a corneal abrasion occurs, this stimulation of the corneal nerves leads to inflammation in the eye. The inflammation results in an increase in prostaglandins, which leads to sharp pain in the eye. The pain is further aggravated by the exposure of the abraded area to the air, blinking, irritation from contact lenses, and rubbing or touching the eye.

Foreign Objects

Foreign objects in the eye can irritate the inside of the eyelid and cause inflammation and pain. If a foreign object penetrates the eye and becomes embedded in the cornea, it can cause significant damage and cause a deep and painful sensation.

Proper eye protection can prevent many of these injuries. Still, if a foreign object becomes lodged in the eye, removing it as soon as possible is important.

Eye Infection

Eye infections cause sharp pain in the eyes due to inflammation and irritation of the infected area. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and allergies can cause this.

When your eyes are infected, they can be swollen and red, and a thin liquid can discharge from them. The pain associated with an eye infection is due to the body’s response to the infection as the eye tries to fight off the infection.

Additionally, a more serious infection can cause objects to appear blurred or cause light sensitivity and a decreased range of vision. In most cases, treatments, including antibiotics, are needed to fight the infection and relieve the pain.

Ocular Hypertension

Ocular hypertension is one of the primary causes of sharp pain in the eye. When the pressure of the eye’s internal fluids becomes elevated, it puts more and more pressure on the eyeball. This increased pressure can cause eye pain, headaches, and double vision.

In more severe cases, ongoing elevated pressure can lead to glaucoma, vision loss, and possibly even blindness. For that reason, it is imperative that you learn about normal eye pressure and consult with your doctor if you experience any eye pain. Treatment for ocular hypertension can include medications such as eye drops, laser treatments, and in some cases, surgery.


Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. The main symptom of glaucoma is a sharp pain in the eye. This is caused by increased pressure within the eye which places tension on the nerve.

When the pressure increases and the nerve is stretched, it can cause pain and vision loss. A person may also experience headaches, nausea, and sharp pain.

Regular eye checkups are essential to diagnose glaucoma early and prevent long-term damage. Treatment and management of the disease can help reduce the pressure in the eye and the pain.


Migraine is a vascular disorder characterized by severe throbbing and often debilitating pain localized to one side of the head. It is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound. The sharp pains in the eye associated with migraine are caused by constriction and dilation of the blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes.


Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is a condition that affects the optic nerves, which transmit visual information from the eyes to the brain. Pain is the most common symptom of optic neuritis and is often described as a sharp, burning sensation in or around the eyes. Various factors, including certain medications and infections, can trigger this pain.

In severe cases, it can be accompanied by vision changes and blindness. Therefore, the sharp stabbing pain in the eye caused by optic neuritis may be the body’s way of alerting the patient that the optic nerve is being damaged and needs to be examined and treated.


Sinusitis is a common condition caused by a sinus infection characterized by inflammation and infection of the lining of the sinuses. The sinuses can become swollen, congested, and filled with mucus. This irritation often causes sharp pain in the eyes, as the sinuses and the eyes are connected through the same nerve pathways.

Additionally, the pressure of the congested sinuses strains the surrounding tissue, including the eye sockets. This increases the sensitivity to light, causing excessive tears and sharp, aching pain around the eyes.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are one of the most severe types and may cause sharp, intense pain behind or around one eye. The pain typically comes on very suddenly and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours.

The cause of cluster headaches isn’t known. Still, it’s believed to be related to changes in blood vessels and nerves around the eyes and brain.

Cluster headaches involve the trigeminal nerve, which is a nerve that runs through the face and head. Changes in the vasculature in the trigeminal nerve can cause pressure in the eye, resulting in sharp and intense pain.

It’s theorized that those suffering from cluster headaches may have increased sensitivity to changes in the trigeminal nerve, leading to increased pain. In addition, the pain of cluster headaches is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as flushing, eye tearing, and nasal congestion.

Don’t Ignore Sharp Pain in Eye!

The sharp pain in eye can be caused by a wide range of conditions, from normal things such as contact lens irritation to more severe conditions such as scratched corneas and infections.

You should book an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a more detailed diagnosis to get a definitive answer. Don’t delay, and disregard your sharp eye pain! Book an appointment with an ophthalmologist today!

We hope this eye care guide was helpful to you. If you enjoy reading this, check out our blog for more valuable information and resources.

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