Sharp eye pain can stem from many causes. Without treatment, some of these issues can lead to vision loss and other serious complications.

Intense or sharp pain often results from debris entering the eye.

This type of pain can also occur with migraine or cluster headaches. In some cases, inflammation or fluid buildup in the eye can also lead to severe pain, as well as tissue damage and vision problems.

In this article, we discuss seven causes of sharp eye pain and when to see a doctor.

7 causes and symptoms

1. Debris in the eye

Many people experience sharp pain when debris, such as dirt or dust, becomes lodged in an eye.

The pain usually subsides once a person flushes the debris from their eye. They can do this by splashing water or saline solution on the affected eye.

If a person continues to experience eye pain, they may have a corneal abrasion, which is a small scratch on the eye. In this case, it is best to contact an optometrist or ophthalmologist for further evaluation.

2. Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation of the eye’s middle layer — the uvea.

This inflammation can also affect the eye’s lens, retina, optic nerve, and vitreous fluid. It can occur in one or both eyes.

Uveitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • eye pain and redness
  • dark spots in the vision
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light

Uveitis can damage tissue in the eye, which may result in reduced vision or vision loss.

Medical professionals who specialize in eye health can use chart exams and evaluate the pressure inside the affected eye to diagnose uveitis. They may also dilate the pupil to inspect the back of the eye.

Treatments for uveitis focus on reducing inflammation and pain, preventing tissue damage, and counteracting vision loss. A doctor may recommend:

  • corticosteroid injections or drops
  • oral immunosuppressive medication
  • anti-inflammatory eye drops or oral medication


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