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Learn about your pain in one eye, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your pain in one eye from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Pain in One Eye Checker

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Your Pain in One Eye May Also be Known as:
Left eye pain
Right eye pain

Pain in One Eye Symptoms

The eyes are among the most sensitive and important of all of our organs. If anything begins to go wrong with an eye, you will notice right away and be very protective of it.

Pain in only one eye is often a symptom of infection following some sort of trauma. Rubbing the eye when it feels dry or itchy can scratch the cornea, which is the clear tissue covering the surface of the eyeball, and allow bacteria or other infectious agents to enter. Eye infections can start suddenly and worsen quickly, so it is important to get professional care for such pain in one eye symptoms and not try to treat them yourself.


Who is most often affected by pain in one eye?

  • Wears contact lenses.
  • Had chickenpox as a child.
  • Has an autoimmune disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, or type 1 diabetes.
  • Has a metabolic disorder such as type 2 diabetes.
  • Has a serious systemic illness such as tuberculosis, because the infection can spread throughout the body and reach the eye.
  • Has a weakened immune system from chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or AIDS.

Is pain in one eye serious?

  • A mild irritation that clears on its own within 24 hours is most likely not serious.
  • Localized redness, swelling, and mild pain in one eye is probably not a threat to sight, but should still be treated by a medical provider.
  • Sudden severe pain with blurred vision and blank spots can be very serious and may lead to a loss of sight in one or both eyes.

Pain in One Eye Causes Overview

Abnormal conditions involving the cornea.

These are things that make the cornea susceptible to infectious agents:

  • Abnormal blinking, meaning the eyelids do not blink rapidly enough or close fully during blinking.
  • The cornea may become dry from lack of tears and normal moisture.
  • Degenerative disease of the cornea.
  • Use of steroid eyedrops.
  • Trauma, which can scratch or otherwise damage the cornea and allow infectious agents to get through it.

    • Acute injury.
    • Surgery.

An actual infection of the cornea, due to:

  • Bacteria.

    • Contact lenses.
    • Wearing lenses overnight or otherwise too long.
    • Improper cleaning and storage of lenses.
    • Infection of the eyelids that spreads to the damaged cornea.
  • Fungus.

    • This is usually from plant material (earth, grass, leaves, etc.) being blown into the eyes.
    • May also be due to contaminated contact lenses or solution.

Infection of the middle layer of the eye, which is often seen with:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Untreated systemic bacterial or viral infections, since the infectious agents can spread through the bloodstream to the eyes.

A build-up of fluid within the eyeball (glaucoma)

  • which can put pressure on the optic nerve and cause pain and blind spots.

A flare-up of the virus that causes chickenpox.

  • If this occurs near the eye, it can interfere with vision.

Rare and unusual causes:

  • Immunocompromised such that person's immune system has been weakened due to illness or treatments such as:
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or HIV

Top 2 Pain in One Eye Causes

  1. 1.Corneal Abrasion

    Corneal abrasion is a wound to the part of the eye known as the cornea. The cornea is the crystal clear (transparent) tissue that covers the front of the eye. It works with the lens of the eye to focus images on the retina.

    You should visit the ER if the pain is bad or the injury to the eye is severe. Otherwise, you can use any pain relieving eye drops and your eye should heal in 1-3 days.

    Top Symptoms:
    blurry vision, sensitivity to light, constant eye pain, moderate eye pain, pain in one eye
    Symptoms that always occur with corneal abrasion:
    pain in one eye, wateriness in one eye, constant eye pain

    Pain in One Eye Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having pain in one eye.

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  2. 2.Anterior Uveitis

    Uveitis is the inflammation of of the blood vessels between the back and the front of the eye. "Anterior" uveitis is inflammation of the front of the eye: the iris (the round hole that light goes through) and the ciliary body (the muscles and connective tissue behind the eye's surface). Uveitis can affect adults and children, and there's typically no cause that can be identified.

    You should go to the ER or walk-in ophthalmology clinic immediately. You cannot shrug off this "pink eye" because there's a possibility of vision loss without treatment. You must see an ophthalmologist within 24 hours for follow-up after your initial treatment.

    Top Symptoms:
    blurry vision, sensitivity to light, constant eye pain, eye redness, pain in one eye
    Symptoms that always occur with anterior uveitis:
    constant eye pain
    Hospital emergency room

Pain in One Eye Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate pain in one eye treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • You have sudden severe pain in one eye along with impaired vision, especially if there appears to be a spot on the surface of the eye. This is a medical emergency that can lead to permanent vision loss. Be sure to bring any contact lenses and cases with you, since the medical providers may want to culture them to find the organism causing the problem.

Schedule an appointment for:

  • a sore, reddened, irritated eye with moderate pain and some discharge. Bring any contact lenses and cases with you to the appointment.

Pain in one eye remedies that you can try at home:

  • For very mild symptoms you can use over-the-counter eyedrops, but if the symptoms do not clear up quickly you must visit a medical provider.
  • Be aware of the limitations on wearing contact lenses and learn the proper way to care for your lenses and cases.
  • Frequent and thorough handwashing will help greatly with avoiding any sort of eye infection.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pain in One Eye

  • Q.Is your eye pain getting better or worse?
  • Q.Is your eye pain constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.How severe is your headache?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our pain in one eye symptom checker.

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Pain in One Eye Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced pain in one eye have also experienced:

    • 12% Headache
    • 5% Throbbing Headache
    • 4% Nausea
  • People who have experienced pain in one eye had symptoms persist for:

    • 50% Less Than a Day
    • 28% Less Than a Week
    • 10% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced pain in one eye were most often matched with:

    • 7% Anterior Uveitis
    • 2% Corneal Abrasion
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Pain in One Eye Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having pain in one eye.

Take a quiz