Unexplainable pain behind the eyes is one of the most alarming symptoms for patients. Note: The causes of eye pain are often different from the causes of pressure behind the eyes. Learn more about them, as well as eye care tips.

The cause Migraines and other headaches

The American Migraine Foundation notes that headaches and pain around the eyes often go together. Most are classified as a migraine- or tension-type and aren’t related to eye strain. Migraines are frequently associated with a feeling of pressure or pain behind the eyes.


  • Pulsing, or tightening and pressing pain in the head
  • Cluster headaches. These will last for 15180 minutes up to eight times a day
  • Infection, swelling, or facial pain is common with cluster headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Strange lights or sounds before the onset of a headache
  • Infection, swelling, or pain in areas of the face, including the eyes, is common with cluster headaches

Sinus infection

The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull, positioned above, below, behind, and between the eyes. Problems with the sinuses often include feelings of pain in and around the face.

One of the main symptoms of a sinus infection is throbbing pain and pressure around the eyeballs. At least one type of sinus infection sphenoid sinusitis is linked to an ache behind the eyes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Headache
  • Pain or pressure in the face
  • Mucus dripping from the nose down the throat
  • Sore throat
  • Fever, or cough
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease can cause the tissues, muscles, and fat behind the eye to swell. This causes the eyeball to bulge from the socket.
The swelling of the tissues behind the eye may result in a feeling of pressure.

Graves Disease Symptoms

  • Irritation in the eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • More tears than usual
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Double vision
  • Ulcers on the eye
  • Loss of vision
  • Inability to move the eye
  • Eye bulging from the socket
    • Optic neuritis

      Optic neuritis is a condition in which the nerve that connects the eyes and brain becomes inflamed and swollen. Symptoms include pain and temporary loss of vision, which usually peaks within a few days and can take 412 weeks to improve.

      Infections can trigger optic neuritis, and it’s associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). Around 50 percent of all people with MS experience optic neuritis, which is often the first indication of MS.

      Symptoms of optic neuritis include:

      • Reduced vision
    • Color blindness, or colors appearing less vibrant
  • Blurry sight, especially after the body temperature has risen
  • Loss of vision in one eye
  • Pain in the eye, especially when moving it
  • Pupil reacts unusually to bright light
  • Toothache

    A toothache, especially as a result of infection, may cause throbbing pain and feelings of pressure to spread to nearby parts of the face, as the surrounding nerves become affected. There are, for example, documented cases of toothaches leading to swollen eye sockets.

    Facial Injuries

    Different types of fracture to the eye socket can cause damage to the eye muscles, nerves, and sinuses.


    • The eye appears to either bulge or sink into the socket
    • A black eye
    • Double vision, blurry vision, or reduced eyesight
    • Numbness in parts of the face around the injured eye
    • Swelling near and around the eye
    • A flat-looking cheek, possibly with severe pain while opening the mouth

    When patients need to seek professional help

    Patients may seek help from any number of specialists or primary care physicians depending on their eye pain symptoms, including ENT, dental surgeons, neurologists, and, of course, ophthalmologists.

    You might find an artful way to weave this information into your website or communicate to patients that: Anyone experiencing loss of vision, bulging eyes, fever, frequent headaches, or facial swelling should see their doctor.

    If the doctor is unable to make a diagnosis, they will refer the person to an appropriate expert who can investigate more thoroughly.