Eye pain has a variety of causes, some of which are potentially serious. You can experience eye pain in several different areas of your eye.
Sometimes, pain may be felt close to the surface of your eye, causing sharp pain or a burning sensation. Other times, it may be experienced in the deeper parts of your eye and may be felt as an aching or throbbing pain.
It’s also possible that you may feel pain that’s localized to the corner of your eye. What could be causing this type of eye pain?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the possible causes of pain in the corner of your eye, as well as the treatment options, and when you should get medical care.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential causes of eye pain that can develop near the corner of your eye.
Tears help to both lubricate and protect the surface of your eye. Once they’ve done their job, tears drain away into tiny holes at the inner corner of your eye. They eventually move into your tear ducts, after which they empty into your nose.
When one of your tear ducts becomes blocked, tears can’t drain properly. A tear duct blockage can occur due to:
- an infection
- age-related changes in older adults
- inflammation from conditions like conjunctivitis
- injury to your nose
- growths in your nose, such as nasal polyps or a tumor
- a congenital blockage, meaning a baby is born with a blocked tear duct
Sometimes, germs accumulate around a blocked tear duct. This can lead to an infection called dacryocystitis. Dacryocystitis is often caused by bacteria, typically Staphylococcus (staph) and Streptococcus (strep) species.
Some symptoms of dacryocystitis include:
- tenderness or pain around the inner corner of your eye
- inflammation and redness at the inner corner of your eye
- excessive tearing
- pus or mucus drainage from your eye
- crusting around your eyelids or eyelashes
Oral antibiotics can help treat the bacterial infection. You may also be instructed to apply a warm compress or gently massage the affected area. Surgery may be recommended if you have repeated infections.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of your eyelids. Angular blepharitis is a type of blepharitis that affects the corners of your eyelids. It’s often caused by a bacterial infection, typically with the Moraxella species.
Symptoms, which are often worse in the morning, may include:
- eye irritation, which can feel like:
- something is in your eye
- eye redness
- eyelid swelling
- crusting around your eyelids or eyelashes
- eyelids that are stuck shut upon waking
Since angular blepharitis is often caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic to treat it. They may also recommend the following:
- applying a warm compress to the affected area several times a day
- gently massaging your eyelids with a clean finger or washcloth
- using artificial tears
- avoiding eye makeup until your symptoms have eased
Pinguecula and pterygium are two benign (noncancerous) types of growths that occur on your eye’s conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear tissue that covers the white part of your eye.
It’s believed that these growths are caused by exposure to things like sunlight, wind, and dust or sand. They often start at the inner corner of your eye, closest to your nose. However, they can grow at the outer corner of your eye as well.
Pinguecula and pterygium each have different characteristics:
- Pinguecula. A pinguecula is yellowish in color. While often asymptomatic, a pinguecula can sometimes become inflamed and cause symptoms.
- Pterygium. A pterygium is made up of fleshy tissue and may also contain blood vessels. It often begins as a pinguecula. It can sometimes grow large enough to cover part of your cornea, which can affect your vision.
In addition to the characteristics described above, you may notice the following if you have a pinguecula or pterygium:
- discomfort in the affected area of your eye, which can include feelings of:
- redness and swelling in the affected area
- blurry vision
Pinguecula and pterygium often don’t need treatment unless they cause significant discomfort or affect your vision. Some potential treatment options include:
- artificial tears
- steroid eye drops
- surgical removal of large pterygiums
A stye is a painful bump that affects your eyelid. It’s caused by a bacterial infection, typically by Staphylococcus (staph) species.
Styes can affect any part of your eyelid, including the area close to the corner of your eye. There are two different types of styes:
- External. An external stye happens on the exterior of your upper or lower eyelid. It’s localized at the base of your eyelashes and is often due to an infected hair follicle. It looks like a pimple or pustule.
- Internal. An internal stye occurs on the inside of your upper or lower eyelid. This type of stye can develop when bacteria infect oil-producing glands in this area.
Symptoms of a stye can include:
- a visible, painful red bump along the edge of your eyelid that often has a pus-filled center
- a feeling of burning or tenderness in the affected area
- swelling of the eyelid
- excess tearing
- a gritty sensation or feeling like something is in your eye
- light sensitivity
Styes often go away on their own after about a week. Your doctor will recommend that you apply a warm compress to the affected area several times a day to help with recovery.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if the infection begins to spread. Styes that are large or don’t go away with medications or home remedies may need to be surgically drained.
Your eye has natural defenses, like tears and eyelashes, that help keep foreign bodies out. However, it’s still possible that a foreign body may get into your eye.
This may happen due to natural environmental conditions, but can also occur due to workplace conditions or an accident. Some examples of foreign bodies include:
Foreign bodies can affect any part of your eye, including around the corner of your eye. If you have a foreign body in your eye, you may experience:
- pain or irritation of the affected area
- feeling like something is in your eye
- eye redness
- blurry vision
- sensitivity to light
You may be able to remove a small foreign body by flushing your eye with warm, clean water. However, foreign bodies that can’t be removed with irrigation, are large, or are embedded in the eye require immediate medical attention.
Make an appointment with your eye doctor if you have pain in the corner of your eye that doesn’t go away or gets worse after a few days of at-home care.
Some symptoms can indicate a more serious problem that requires prompt treatment. Seek emergency medical attention for pain in the corner of your eye that:
- is severe
- comes on after an injury, including after getting a foreign object or a chemical in your eye
- happens along with sensitivity to light
- occurs with eye drainage, such as pus or blood
- is accompanied by severe swelling in or around your eye
- happens with changes in vision, such as blurry vision or vision loss
- makes it difficult to open or move your eye
Pain that’s localized to the corner of your eye can have several potential causes. Possible causes can include tear duct infections, blepharitis, and styes.
Some of the conditions that affect the corner of your eye may be treated at home using warm compresses, gentle massage, or artificial tears. However, other conditions may need to be treated with antibiotics or steroid eye drops.
If the pain in the corner of your eye doesn’t go away after a few days of at-home care, visit your eye doctor to see what may be causing it. Seek prompt medical attention if you experience an eye injury, severe pain, or vision changes.