Eye Pain

What Causes Eye Pain?

Eye pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose eye pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "eye pain" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Possible Urgent Medical Need
  • Glaucoma
  • Iritis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
watery eyes
having had eye injury or surgery
black/tarry stools
high sensitivity to bright light
severe stiff neck
chest pain when breathing
bloodshot eyes
major steroid use
significant left iliac pain
severe vision disturbances
peripheral vision loss
glaucoma in close family members
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of eye pain:
Cause Probability Status
Glaucoma 93% Confirm
Iritis 30% Unlikely
Possible Urgent Medical Need 5% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate eye problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Are you experiencing eye pain that was not caused by an injury? Include any burning, throbbing, aching or stabbing pain.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ In the past only
→ Yes, in one eye only
→ Yes, in both eyes
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of eye pain, history of eye pain, pain in one eye or pain in both eyes, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
A Potentially Urgent Medical Need

Severe eye pain should be investigated aggressively to prevent the possible consequence of blindness.


Acute glaucoma causes episodes of severe eye pain.


Although it is more common for just one eye to be affected during an attack of iritis, both eyes may be affected at the same time.  There are several symptoms of iritis that are fairly specific to it, one being 'contralateral photosensitivity'.  This means that the eye with iritis will feel pain even if light is shined into the OTHER eye only.

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