Why Do My Eyes Hurt When I Close Them: Identifying Common Causes and Solutions

Experiencing pain when closing the eyes can be alarming and uncomfortable. This sensation may be a sign of various underlying issues, ranging from minor irritations to potential vision-threatening conditions. My eyes, for instance, are sensitive organs composed of several structures such as the cornea and lens, which work together to provide clear vision. When these components are affected, either by injury, infection, or other factors, it can lead to discomfort upon closing my eyes.

Identifying the common causes of eye pain when they are closed is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. The discomfort could be due to simple factors such as strain from overuse or something more serious like inflammation of the cornea or other eye structures. Accompanying symptoms, which can range from redness and watering to light sensitivity and blurred vision, offer clues to the underlying cause and help in diagnosing the issue.

For maintaining ongoing eye health, awareness of the treatment and management options available is essential. From home remedies like warm compresses to professional medical interventions, the approach to managing eye pain varies depending on the cause. Regular check-ups with an eye care professional ensure that my vision and eye health remain optimal, and any emerging issues are addressed promptly.

Key Takeaways

  • Eye pain when closing the eyes can signify various conditions.
  • Symptom patterns are key to diagnosing the cause of eye discomfort.
  • Effective treatment requires identifying the underlying issue.

Common Causes of Eye Pain When Closing Them

When you experience pain upon closing your eyes, it can be attributed to various factors ranging from external irritants to underlying health conditions. The following subsections explain the most common causes and their typical symptoms.

External Factors and Allergies

External factors like wind or allergens can cause discomfort. When allergens come into contact with the conjunctiva, they can trigger allergic reactions, resulting in itchiness, redness, and pain when the eyes are closed.

  • Protective Eyewear: Wearing goggles may prevent allergens and wind from directly irritating the eyes.
  • Treatment: Over-the-counter antihistamine or prescribed antibiotics may alleviate symptoms.

Infections and Inflammations

Infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), uveitis, and blepharitis can cause pain when closing the eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis often presents with sticky discharge, whereas viral forms may not.

  • Conjunctivitis: Marked by pink discoloration of the sclera and discomfort.
  • Treatment: Antibiotic eye drops are effective for bacterial infections.

Physical Injuries and Abrasions

Corneal abrasions or the presence of a foreign body in the eye can result in severe pain, especially upon blinking or closing the eyes.

  • Symptoms: Tearing, redness, and a sensation of a scratch or trauma.
  • Prevention: Protective eyewear reduces the risk of eye injury during activities.

Contact Lens Complications

Improper use of contact lenses can lead to infections or scratches on the eye’s surface, causing pain.

  • Signs: Redness, discharge, or feeling of foreign bodies under the eyelid.
  • Recommendation: Ensure lenses are clean and replaced regularly to avoid complications.

Systemic Conditions Affecting the Eyes

Conditions like multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, or sinusitis can also affect the eyes, causing pain, which may be felt more acutely when closing them.

  • Migraine sufferers may notice eye pain as part of their symptoms.
  • Vision Changes: Sometimes associated with episodes of vision loss or blurred vision.

Vision and Refractive Errors

Refractive errors causing blurred vision may lead to eye pain, as the eyes work harder to focus, which can become noticeable when closing them.

  • Prescription Check: Regular eye exams ensure that prescriptions are up to date to minimize strain.

Eye Strain and Overuse

Prolonged screen time without sufficient breaks can cause eyestrain. My eyes might ache after extended periods of use, especially when I try to rest them.

  • Screen Time Management: Encouraging regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule can help alleviate strain.
  • Dry Eyes: This common condition can worsen with screen use and cause discomfort when closing the eyes.

Symptoms Accompanying Eye Pain When Closed

When my eyes hurt upon closing, I may experience a variety of accompanying symptoms. These symptoms can help in identifying the underlying cause of the discomfort.

Redness and Irritation

  • Redness: My eyes may appear noticeably red, indicating inflammation.
  • Irritation and Itching: There may be an urge to rub my eyes due to itchiness.

Swelling and Discharge

  • Swollen Eyelids: The eyelids can become puffy, making the eyes feel heavy.
  • Discharge: I might notice a sticky pus or a watery discharge from my eyes.

Sensitivity to Light and Tearing

  • Light Sensitivity: I could find myself squinting or needing to turn away from bright lights.
  • Excessive Tearing: My eyes might water excessively, trying to ease the discomfort.

Vision Impairment

  • Vision Loss: There may be a temporary reduction in my visual clarity.
  • Blurred Vision: My vision might be hazy or unfocused, interfering with normal sight.

Headaches and Neurological Symptoms

  • Headache: A persistent headache often accompanies eye pain when they are closed.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: In more severe cases, these symptoms can occur, signaling a need for medical attention.

Pressure and Pain in Other Areas

  • Sinus Pressure: Congestion can result in pressure around my eyes and nose.
  • Aching: The areas around my eyes may ache, indicating possible sinus infection.

Diagnosing Eye Pain

Physical Examination and History

When I approach the diagnosis of eye pain, I begin with a thorough physical examination and patient history. This includes evaluating the eye in detail, both externally and internally. A key tool in this process is the slit-lamp exam, which allows me to examine the anterior and posterior segments of the eye thoroughly—the cornea, iris, lens, and even the retina. By looking at these areas, I can check for signs of inflammation or damage. I also inquire about the onset, duration, and characteristics of the pain to assist in identifying potential causes like iritis or uveitis.

Imaging and Specialized Tests

In some cases, I may need to go beyond a basic examination. Imaging tests can be crucial for viewing the orbit (eye socket) structures, including the optic nerve. Such tests might involve an MRI or CT scan, both of which can reveal issues not visible during a routine exam. Specialized tests might be necessary if I suspect nerve-related conditions such as optic neuritis. By investigating these deeper structures, I aim to uncover any less obvious sources of eye pain.

Identifying Underlying Conditions

The final step in my diagnostic process is to identify any underlying systemic or local conditions. Inflammation within the eye, such as anterior uveitis, can cause sharp pain and requires prompt treatment to prevent complications. If other parts of the eye are inflamed like the uvea in uveitis, that guides my treatment plan differently. Occasionally, pain upon closing the eyes could suggest an infection, such as orbital cellulitis, which can affect the tissues around the eye socket and necessitate immediate medical attention. My goal is to pinpoint the exact cause to provide appropriate care for my patients.

Treatment and Management Options

When my eyes hurt upon closing, I focus on treatment options that address the underlying cause. Here, I’ve detailed the different approaches that can relieve eye pain, covering medications, possible surgical interventions, home remedies, and guidance on professional assistance.

Medications and Eye Drops

To manage my eye discomfort, I may utilize over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. For infections, I use antibiotic eye drops to eliminate bacteria. When inflammation is the issue, corticosteroids can reduce swelling. If allergies cause my symptoms, antihistamines either in pill form or as eye drops can be effective. For dryness, I often opt for artificial tears to lubricate my eyes and alleviate the burning sensation.

Medication Type Purpose Examples
Antibiotics Treat bacterial infections Antibiotic eye drops
Corticosteroids Reduce inflammation Eye drops, ointment
Antihistamines Alleviate allergy symptoms Pills, eye drops
Artificial Tears Lubricate dry eyes OTC lubricant eye drops

Surgical Interventions

If I have a serious condition causing my eye pain that doesn’t respond to medications, I might consider a surgical intervention. An ophthalmologist will evaluate if surgery is necessary, especially if there are vision changes, intense pain, or if the structure of my eye is affected.

Surgical Options:

  • Corrective Surgery: For structural or refractive issues.
  • Cataract Removal: To restore clarity in vision.
  • Laser Therapy: To treat glaucoma or retinal issues.

Home Remedies and Preventative Measures

Simple home strategies I adopt include using a warm compress to soothe my eyes, decreasing screen time to reduce eye strain, and wearing protective eyewear when outdoors to prevent sensitivity to light. It’s also crucial that I avoid irritants, such as smoke and makeup, if they contribute to my discomfort.

Preventative Measures:

  • Warm Compress: For relief from discomfort and redness.
  • Protective Eyewear: To shield from harsh light and debris.
  • Makeup Hygiene: Using hypoallergenic products and removing makeup before sleep.

When to Seek Professional Help

I know it’s time to seek help from an eye doctor if home remedies and OTC treatments do not relieve my symptoms or if the pain is severe. Persistent symptoms or any changes in vision warrant an immediate consultation with an ophthalmologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Important Considerations for Ongoing Eye Health

Taking care of my eyes involves understanding and maintaining various aspects of eye health. Below, I’ve broken down important components to watch to ensure the well-being of different eye structures and functions.

Regular Eye Examinations

I make it a point to schedule regular visits to an eye doctor. Routine check-ups can detect early signs of issues with the cornea, retina, optic nerve, and extraocular muscles.

Contact Lens Care

If I wear contact lenses, I ensure to follow the hygiene recommendations strictly. Improper use can lead to infections and affect the cornea and conjunctiva.

Computer Use

Extended periods in front of a computer can strain my eyes. I practice the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, I look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to reduce the strain on my eye muscles.

Protective Eyewear

When involved in sports or home projects, I wear protective eyewear to safeguard my eyes from injury, protecting structures like the sclera and iris.

Dry Eyes Management

I stay aware of dry eye symptoms. Addressing dry eyes promptly by using artificial tears or consulting a specialist helps maintain the health of my cornea and conjunctiva.

Surgery Considerations

If I’m considering eye surgery, I thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits with my eye doctor, focusing on the potential impact on the retina and optic nerve.

Muscle Care

The eye muscles, including the extraocular muscles, control movement and focus. I perform eye exercises to maintain muscle strength and flexibility.

Through these steps, I support my overall eye health, ensuring each component, from the cornea to the optic nerve, functions optimally.


My eyes hurting when I close them can be attributed to several factors. Dryness or strain often leads to discomfort, indicating the need for rest or better eye care.

Common causes include:

  • Dry Eye Syndrome: Prolonged screen time reduces blinking.
  • Eye Strain: Overuse of digital devices strains the visual system.
  • Infections: Signs of conjunctivitis or other eye-related infections could be the cause.

To mitigate discomfort, I can take several steps:

  1. Use artificial tears to lubricate my eyes.
  2. Practice the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  3. Consult an ophthalmologist if symptoms persist, to rule out infections or other serious conditions.

Monitoring eye health is crucial, and maintaining routine eye care can prevent the discomfort associated with eye pain when closing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eye pain can be alarming, especially when it occurs in situations as common as closing one’s eyes. In this section, I’ll provide insight into why this happens and what steps can be taken to alleviate discomfort.

What causes pain in the eyes upon waking up?

Upon waking, eye pain can be due to factors like dryness, incomplete eyelid closure during sleep, or an eye infection. It’s important to assess sleeping conditions and overall eye health.

How can I alleviate eye pain that occurs when closing my eyes to sleep?

To alleviate eye pain at bedtime, consider using lubricating eye drops before sleep and ensure your sleeping area is free from irritants. Keeping the eyes clean and adequately moisturized can help.

What are the reasons for experiencing a stinging sensation in the eyes upon closing them?

A stinging sensation in the eyes can often be caused by dry eye syndrome, the use of certain medications, or environmental factors such as wind and smoke. Identifying and reducing exposure to these irritants is beneficial.

Why might one feel eye discomfort when looking up or to the sides?

Eye discomfort when looking in different directions could be due to strain from overuse, inflammation of the eye muscles, or conditions such as thyroid eye disease. It’s crucial to monitor eye movement and seek advice if discomfort persists.

Can being sick lead to pain in the eyes when moving them?

Yes, illness can cause eye pain upon movement. Sinus infections, migraines, or viral infections like the flu are common culprits. Rest and treating the underlying illness usually help reduce the eye pain.

What should be done if the eye feels bruised but appears normal?

If the eye feels bruised without visible signs of trauma, it’s important to see an eye care professional. This sensation could indicate deeper issues such as increased eye pressure or inflammation that need prompt attention.