Blog 6, True Eye Experts

Pain or Pressure Behind the Eye: What It Could Mean

Written by True Eye Experts

Everyone experiences pressure or pain behind the eyes from time to time. However, this eye pain can last for long periods or become particularly concerning if you don’t know what’s provoking it.  

There are a few causes of this pain or pressure, each with unique symptoms and recommended treatment. It’s also common that this pain is not originating from your eyes but another part of your head, so it’s important to figure out the source of the eye pain to figure out if there’s a larger problem in your body.

If you’ve been experiencing this kind of pain, keep reading the article below to explore the possible reasons why. Plus, we’ll explain some symptoms to identify and offer treatment recommendations. 

Pain vs. Pressure 

Pain and pressure are not the same things, although they can occur at the same time. When first attempting to identify your symptoms, it’s important to differentiate between pain and pressure to get a clearer picture of what may be causing it. 

We are all familiar with pain on some level. Pain behind the eyes can feel like stinging, burning, or a stabbing sensation, and can occur at different levels of severity. Pressure, on the other hand, is more uncomfortable than painful. It can be described as a stretching sensation or a feeling of fullness behind your eyes. 

Causes for Pressure or Pain Behind The Eyes 

If you are experiencing eye pain or the feeling of pressure behind your eyes, don’t panic. There are several reasons you could be experiencing this, and the vast majority are easily treatable and not dangerous to your overall health. 


Otherwise known as a sinus infection, sinusitis occurs when viruses or bacteria get into the space behind your cheeks, eyes, and nose. These germs then cause your sinuses to swell and your nose to fill with mucus. In these cases, it’s most commonly pressure and not pain that is caused by sinusitis. In addition to this pressure, symptoms may include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Fever 
  • Ear pressure or pain 
  • Headache 
  • Bad breath 
  • Cough 
  • Mucus drainage from your nose 
  • Stuffy nose 

Treatment for Sinusitis 

Sinusitis is very common, so many individuals who experience these symptoms take allergy medicine or other over-the-counter cold medicine. In these situations, symptoms usually last for up to 4 weeks, with steady improvement if you take medication. 

Some cases of sinusitis can be due to a bacterial infection, in which case a doctor will need to prescribe antibiotics. In any case, if you notice your symptoms lasting longer than usual, seeking medical help is always recommended. 


Headaches are another common cause of both pressure and pain behind the eyes. Two types of headaches can be responsible: tension headaches and cluster headaches. Tension headaches are much more common, with less serious symptoms than cluster headaches. 

Cluster headaches are extremely painful and have the potential to last days or even weeks. This is the type of headache that interferes with everyday activities, like school or work. Additional symptoms include: 

  • Drooping eyelid 
  • Swelling on one side of your face 
  • Sweating or redness on one side of your face
  • Red, teary eyes 
  • Soreness in shoulder or neck muscles 
  • Pain in your head 

Treatment for Headaches 

Much like with sinusitis, many people choose to treat headaches with over-the-counter pain medication. Depending on the severity of your headache or how often they occur, you may want to talk to a doctor. Often, people who suffer from frequent cluster headaches will be prescribed a stronger medicine than can be found over the counter. 

Grave’s Disease 

An autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland, Grave’s disease affects about 1 in 200 people. It causes the thyroid gland to release too much of its hormone, which can affect the muscles of the eye, causing them to bulge. Many people also claim they feel pressure or pain behind the eyes, which can be made worse with movement. Some other symptoms include: 

  • Vision loss 
  • Red eyes 
  • Puffy eyelids 
  • Feeling something in your eye 
  • Eye pain 
  • Bulging eyes 

Treatment for Grave’s Disease 

If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms listed above, you should contact your doctor for some possible testing. Grave’s disease can be diagnosed by running a few noninvasive tests. Since this particular disease is rooted in a malfunctioning immune system, the goal of treatment will be to restore the thyroid hormone to normal levels. Traditionally, doctors will prescribe beta-blockers like atenolol or metoprolol for this treatment. 

Optic Neuritis 

Optic neuritis refers to when the nerve that sends messages from your eye to your brain gets inflamed. This occurs when your immune system attacks myelin, the fatty coating that surrounds and protects your optic nerve. This can have multiple causes, ranging from the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis (MS) to diabetes. 

In addition to both pain and pressure behind your eyes, you may experience some of the following symptoms: 

  • Tooth pain 
  • Flashing lights when you move your eyes 
  • Worsening pain when you move your eyes 
  • Loss of color vision or side vision 
  • Vision loss in one eye 

Treatment for Optic Neuritis 

If you find yourself experiencing any of those symptoms, you should schedule an eye exam for a possible diagnosis. While it may sound serious, optic neuritis often improves on its own. 

Commonly, steroid medications are prescribed to reduce nerve inflammation. If the condition isn’t improved after this treatment, then plasma exchange therapy is sometimes used to help recover vision. This treatment hasn’t been proven effective, but it has been shown to help in some cases. 

Other Causes 

Of course, there are some other causes of eye pain or pressure. Most commonly, these are due to allergies but can also be caused by conditions such as pink eye. 

Tooth pain can even be a cause. If there is an issue with the alignment of your jaw or your bite, it could cause your facial muscles to tense up, which can spread to the area behind your eyes. 


If you are experiencing any of these eye pain symptoms, schedule an appointment today to get a diagnosis. It’s most likely you are experiencing common causes like allergies or a sinus infection, but if you find your symptoms persisting you could contact a professional. 

The good news is, no matter what the cause, there is likely an effective treatment plan. So, what are you waiting for? Get some peace of mind and schedule an appointment with True Eye Experts today. 

About the Author

True Eye Experts

Our mission at True Eye Experts is simple — provide the best possible care to our patients. We make sure we’re doing this a few different ways. Our V-Eye-P Exam is one of the most comprehensive eye exams in the industry. We use state-of-the-art medical technology to screen, diagnose, and treat more conditions than most other providers in the area. We have an extensive collection of designer eyewear that can complement any patient’s face, style, and budget, and our advanced contact lens fitting process can help even “hard-to-fit” patients wear contacts comfortably. Book an appointment online at one of our True Eye Experts locations, conveniently located throughout Central Florida. Have questions or prefer to book over the phone? Give us a call today.


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