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Why Do I Feel Pressure in My Eyes?

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A woman is rubbing her eyes vigorously from unexplained eye pressure building in her eyes.

Feeling pressure in your eyes can be unsettling and uncomfortable, especially when you’re not sure what’s causing it. Although eye pressure is a common symptom, it’s important to understand the underlying reasons to address it effectively, in the event it may be related to eye disease. Some of the reasons can be:

  • Sinusitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Eyestrain
  • Migraines and cluster headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Infection and inflammation

In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common causes of eye pressure and offer guidance on what steps you can take next.

What is Eye Pressure?

Eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP), refers to the fluid pressure inside the eye. This pressure is maintained by the continuous production and drainage of a fluid called aqueous humor, which nourishes the eye and keeps it inflated. Normally, the eye regulates its own pressure without issue. However, if the drainage system becomes blocked or the eye produces too much fluid, pressure can build up, leading to uncomfortable sensations. Persistent high eye pressure can also be a risk factor for more serious conditions such as glaucoma, emphasizing the importance of monitoring and managing IOP for overall eye health.

Why Eye Pressure Can Be Dangerous

Elevated eye pressure can be hazardous because it may lead to optic nerve damage, which can result in vision loss. One of the most significant risks associated with consistently high intraocular pressure (IOP) is glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that can cause irreversible blindness if left untreated. 

The pressure can compress the optic nerve at the back of the eye, impeding its ability to transmit visual information to the brain. Over time, this compression can lead to the gradual loss of peripheral vision, and eventually, central vision. Regular eye exams are crucial for detecting high IOP early and implementing measures such as prescription eye drops or surgery to lower the pressure, thereby preserving eye health and preventing long-term damage.

Common Causes of Eye Pressure

1. Sinusitis

Sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses, can cause significant pressure around your eyes. When your sinuses are blocked, the buildup of mucus creates pressure that can extend to the eye area. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, facial pain, and headaches.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Over time, this elevated pressure can damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. Symptoms may include eye pain, headaches, and blurry vision. Glaucoma often develops gradually, so regular eye exams are essential for early detection.

3. Eye Strain

In today’s digital age, eye strain is a frequent cause of eye pressure. Prolonged screen time, whether from computers, smartphones, or tablets, can lead to tired eyes, discomfort, and pressure. Implementing the 20-20-20 rule—taking a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes—can alleviate these symptoms.

4. Migraines and Cluster Headaches

Migraines and cluster headaches can cause intense pain and pressure around the eyes. Migraines often come with additional symptoms such as light sensitivity, nausea, and visual disturbances. Cluster headaches, while less common, result in severe pain around one eye and can cause redness and tearing.

5. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when your eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. The lack of lubrication can result in a feeling of pressure, discomfort, and even a burning sensation. Using artificial tears and taking breaks from tasks that require intense focus can help manage dry eyes.

6. Infections and Inflammation

Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), and inflammatory conditions, like uveitis, can lead to eye pressure. These conditions often come with additional symptoms, including redness, swelling, discharge, and sensitivity to light.

When to Seek Professional Help

While occasional eye pressure might not be a cause for concern, persistent or severe symptoms warrant professional attention. Eye pressure can sometimes indicate underlying issues that require medical evaluation. If you experience any of the following symptoms—such as consistent discomfort, vision changes, headaches, or eye redness—it’s essential to consult an eye care professional promptly. Early detection and treatment can prevent more serious complications and help maintain optimal eye health.

  • Sudden and intense eye pain
  • Vision changes, including blurriness or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Persistent headaches
  • Redness or swelling in or around the eyes

When to Know it’s Time to Book an Appointment

Understanding the potential causes of eye pressure is the first step toward finding relief. If you’re experiencing discomfort in your eyes, it’s crucial to pay attention to your symptoms and take appropriate action. Whether it’s adjusting your screen time habits, using artificial tears, or seeking medical advice, addressing eye pressure promptly can prevent more serious issues down the line.

Don’t ignore your eye health. Schedule an eye exam today at Rock optiX in Millis, MA to ensure your vision stays clear and comfortable. Remember, your eyes are your windows to the world—take good care of them!

Written by Dr. Teresa Hrach

Dr. Teresa D. Hrach is an experienced optometrist located in Millis, Massachusetts. She is your neighborhood optometrist who truly cares about your medical needs.

Dr. Hrach was accepted early to optometry school and got her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degree from New England College of Optometry. She worked part-time in eye care services until she opened her own optometry practice in 2004. She has board certification as an optometric physician to diagnose, manage, and treat various eye conditions and diseases.

Dr. Hrach has a focus in eye care services that deal with contact lenses and dry eye syndrome. Her main priority is to provide outstanding eye care to her patients. She is passionate about health and nutrition and wants to help her optometry patients see better every day.

If you’re searching for an optometric physician with expert services and a warm, personal touch, come see Dr. Hrach.

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