Eye health

Sharp Pain behind Eye: 10 Causes, Diagnosis, and 6 Treatments

Sharp pain behind eye may be bothersome and make you very uncomfortable. Most of the causes of sharp pain behind eye are usually related to your head.

Due to the intensity of the pain and disturbance brought about by this pain, there is need to study more about this health problem. The pain will always feel like a burning, stabbing or even a stinging sensation.

This article shall cover the causes, diagnosis and the treatments which may be causing sharp pain behind eye.

Read on carefully to understand the causes of sharp pain behind eye. This will be very beneficial to you and also to your friends who might be suffering from the same challenge.

10 Causes of Sharp Pain behind Eye:

sharp pain behind eye
Sharp pain behind eye
Image source: remediescure.com

The reasons leading to sharp pain behind eye may include headaches, sinus problems, Graves’ disease, optic nerves damages, and the tooth pain. It might even be caused by migraines, scleritis, glaucoma, many other causes discussed in this article. The roots of this pain include;


This is one of the causes of sharp pain behind eye, which is caused by the inflammation of the sinus cavity. This cause leads to pressure behind the eyes or the cheekbones. The symptoms that indicate one has got sinusitis include;

  • Toothaches
  • Fever
  • Stuffy nose in which the nose is filled with mucus leading to difficulties in breathing.
  • Face tenderness
  • Reduction in the sense of taste
  • Always feeling exhausted.

Various factors contributing to the development of Sinusitis include a change in environments, food sensitivities, allergies and infections of the respiratory system.

Dry Eye Syndrome:

Also known as keratitis sicca or the sicca syndrome in which the eyes become dry. This leads to light sensitivity followed by headaches which consequently leads to sharp pain behind eye.

Optic Neuritis:

This occurs due to optic nerve has inflammation or swelling. You will experience sharp pain behind eye and pain on the eye movements too. The optic nerve is used for communication of sight to the brain.

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Migraine Headache:

This is an intense and excruciating headache which can be caused by allergic reactions such as from foods or even environmental allergies.

In addition to this, migraine headaches may be caused by stress, some specific smells, flashing lights. This pain can radiate to your eye leading to sharp pain behind eye.

Cluster Headache:

This is a severe type of a headache which is characterised by intense pain behind the eye. Its seriousness will make you wake up from sleep. It usually occurs in clusters that disappear and reappear again later.

The symptoms of this type of a headache include;

  • Red eyes
  • Tears coming out often
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Intense pain in your head
  • Eyelid drooping
  • Neck soreness

This is a case where the swelling is seen on the optic disc due to the elevation of the intracranial pressure. It may be caused by brain tumours, inflammation, and haemorrhages. Some of the signs of papilloedema include;

  • Blurred vision
  • Sharp pain behind eye
  • Headache

This is another cause of sharp pain behind eye which is caused by the weakening and dilation of one’s blood vessels in the brain or the artery walls. After weakening, stroke or bleeding may occur which leads to pain behind an eye and intense headache.


This is a situation where there is a loss of vision driven by an increase in the intraocular pressure. The sharp pain behind eye is experienced after the elevation of intraocular pressure has occurred in one eye. It is caused by diabetes, nutritional imbalances, and some drugs. The symptoms of this include;

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Teary eyes
  • Loss of vision

This is a cause of sharp pain behind eye and its caused by inflammation in the outer part of the eyeball known as Sclera. The pain will also be experienced during eye movements. Some of the symptoms of scleritis include;

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Red eyes
  • Stabbing pain behind the eye
The Graves’ Disease:

This is a disease that makes the immune system attack the thyroid gland making it release excess hormone than the normal. The eye muscles are then affected by this disease which leads to pressure behind your eyes. Hence the sharp pain behind eye follows. Some of the symptoms of this disease include;

  • Bulged eyes
  • Puffy eyelids
  • Red eyes
  • Loss of vision
  • Pain in your eye
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Diagnosis of pain behind the eye:

This involves the determination of the type of disease that might be causing the sharp pain behind eye. This will help in deciding what treatment one will receive as there are many causes of the pain in your eye which have different treatment methods.

For diagnosis, the doctor will interview the affected person to determine what are the symptoms of the affected person. The doctor will require information about the symptoms the affected person is having, how long is the person suffering from these symptoms and when do they appear.

The doctor wants to know if the symptoms are periodical or are they constant. In addition to history taking, there may be a need for tests where the symptoms do not indicate the cause. The various tests that will need to be done include:


This will help in finding any form of growths or swelling in one’s sinuses. The doctor uses numbing medicine, then inserts a lighted scope with a camera at the end of the scope and checks for any growths.

MRI or CT scan:

This is a test which is used to see images of one’s brain and other organs. It usually uses radio waves and computers and gets to know if there is any part of the brain is affected leading to sharp pain behind eye.

Blood test:

This will be used for knowing the levels of thyroid hormone and antibodies produced in disorders like Graves disease.

Radioactive iodine uptake:

This will be used to find out about conditions like Graves’ disease.

Optic nerve check:

This will be done by shining a bright light into one’s eye to check how healthy the optic nerve is.

Dental checkup:

This is done when sharp pain behind eye is caused by tooth pain and will require a dentist to correct the dental problems.

6 Treatments for sharp pain behind eye:

Treatment will change from one person to another as its based on the causative factor of sharp pain behind eye. Depending on the cause the following will be some of the medication given to relieve sharp pain behind eye.

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5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP):

This is used in the treatment and the prevention of a migraine headache by increasing the levels of the endorphin and serotonin levels. This makes it act as a painkiller.


This is another treatment for a migraine headache. The magnesium improves the blood flow in the eye by relaxing the eye’s blood vessel walls.

Detection and elimination of food allergies:

As some food allergies play a vital role in the development of sharp pain behind eye, detecting them and eliminating them would be one of the best treatments for such cases.

Performing tests to identify the types of foods that one is allergic to will assist in the prevention and the treatment of a migraine headache.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10):

This is mainly used for the people suffering from a migraine headache. It will reduce and prevent the sharp pain behind eye caused by a migraine headache.

Taking low-glycemic diet:

Taking foods with high sugar levels leads to low blood sugars levels. This may lead to diseases such as diabetes which act as one of the causes of sharp pain behind eye.

This treatment will include consumption of foods with low glycemic index, and it will help in balancing the blood sugar levels. This, as a result, will prevent severe headaches led by high sugar levels. Some examples of such foods include; cucumbers, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, sprouts, avocados, and celery.

Doing exercises:

This is one of the best methods of treatment and prevention of sharp pain behind eye. It will assist in the prevention of diseases like sinusitis as well as stress-related disorders such as migraines.

In conclusion, an eye which is one of the vital organs in your body needs to remain healthy. Sharp pain behind eye would be very irritating as well as cost you a lot of your time. We hope you understand the leading causes, diagnosis, and treatment of sharp pain behind eye now.

  1. Krishnan, V. (2007). Orthodontic pain: from causes to management—a review. The European Journal of Orthodontics, 29(2), 170-179.
  2. Graham, J. R., & Wolff, H. G. (1938).Mechanism of migraine headache and action of ergotamine tartrate. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry, 39(4), 737-763.
  3. Fisher, C. M. (1982).The headache and pain of spontaneous carotid dissection. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 22(2), 60-65.
  4. Binder, W. J. (1998). U.S. Patent No. 5,714,468. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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