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Feeling of pressure behind the eyes

Category : 
Author : Dr Deepak Garg
Protect eyes from digital screen

Pain or more commonly pressure behind or around the eyes usually described as ‘Bharipan or Khichaon” in the eyes is a very common problem encountered in our daily lives. Some people may also feel sharp pain behind the eye or even describe it as if their eye is being poked with an ice pick. Eye pain can be associated with headache. It can present itself anytime of the day and duration can vary depending on your activity, seasons, occupation, hydration or can be due to some under lying eye condition.

Eye pain/ eye pressure or headaches with the eye pain may be accompanied by some of these symptoms: Headache, redness, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, blur vision, double vision, fever, pain on eye movement, Sinus related symptoms

Continuous pain, pressure behind the eyes should be addressed and though it is usually not serious, sometimes, it can be indicative of an associated condition which may need attention and treatment.

Common causes of Eye pain or Eye pressure-

  1. Sleep Deprivation/Lack of Sleep- Sometimes erratic hours of sleep or less sleep can cause a feeling of pressure behind the eyes which usually goes away adequate routine is established.
  2. Computer Vision Syndrome(CVS)– Excessive use of computer, or screen time can reduce our rate of blinking, normal is 12-15 times per minute. This can lead to inadequate tear film on the surface of our eyes and cause dryness which can lead to feeling of khichaon/ pain in the eyes and a desire to rub the eyes.
  3. Dry Eye Syndrome- This can be due to excessive loss of tears from the eyes or inadequate production of tears causing pain, dryness, and redness. However, when dry eye persists, light sensitivity, pain, and general headaches can occur. This can even cause pressure to build up around and behind the eye.
  4. Vision Problems- Vision problems such as Nearsightedness (Minus number for distance vision), Farsightedness (Plus number for distance vision), astigmatism (Cylindrical number for distance vision), or Presbyopia (Plus number for near vision after 40 years of age) can cause strain and a feeling of pressure in the yes. The cause of eye pain is associated with change in power or number leading to eye weakness.
  5. Viral Fever- A viral fever can be followed by pressure hind both eyes and headache. The reason is weakness associated with change in power temporarily thus causing the symptom of pressure behind the eyes.
  6. Sinusitis- (Inflammation of the sinuses) and sinus infection can cause pain around the eyes or pressure behind the eyes along with headache and facial pain.
  7. Glaucoma– Increase in Eye pressure (Intraocular Pressure/IOP) can lead to a feeling of pressure behind the eyes and heaviness associated with eye pain. A family history of Glaucoma/ Diabetes, Myopia, in Known cases, a missed dose of medication or un controlled IOP can lead to these symptoms. Such cases needed urgent intervention  formt he glaucoma specialist.
  8. Scleritis-The sclera is the tough outer coating of the eyeball. Scleritis is the inflammation that develops inside the sclera. Scleritis produces pain behind the eye or upon eye movement. This is accompanied by redness and light sensitivity. Auto immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and inflammatory bowel disease should be ruled out which can often cause scleritis. This condition needs immediate medical attention and can be treated with oral and topical steroids.
  9. Optic Neuritis- Optic neuritis is a condition where the optic nerve is inflamed or infected. This causes pain behind the eye or a feeling of pressure in the eyes or pain upon eye movement. Optic nerve moves slightly when the eye moves hence, when inflamed, on movement of eyes, pain can occur behind the eye. Optic neuritis could be a harbinger of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
  10. Migraines- These headaches classically have a history of migraine. It starts with a typical aura, increased sensitivity to light and throbbing pain behind one eye. History of certain triggering factors like stress, foods typically red wine, fermented products like cheese, smells, sun light, can cause a migraine to develop.
  11. Cluster Headaches- Cluster headaches can cause pressure in head and eyes or pain behind the eyes. Cluster headaches can come on suddenly and reoccur periodically.

Most of these conditions are benign but you may need to see a doctor if the feeling of pressure behind the eyes is associated with:

  1. Eye pain that is severe and/or persistent
  2. It is accompanied by a headache or fever
  3. There is glare (Haloes around light) light sensitivity or see halos around light
  4. If your vision changes suddenly
  5. If you experience swelling in and around the eyes
  6. If you have trouble moving the eyes or keeping them open
  7. If there is blood or pus coming from your eyes

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