Why Do My Eyes Hurt When I Bend Over?

You might be someone who was having a normal day to day life. Suddenly there is an annoying pain behind the back of your eyes while you get up or bend over. Many are worried about eye pain when bending over.

Initially, you might ignore it but it might raise concern eventually. There are a whole lot of reasons for pain in the eye. But, it is quite hard to confirm the cause without a proper check-up by an ophthalmologist.

However, it is good to be aware of your symptoms to avoid serious conditions and to know when to make a trip to your general physician. So here is an overview of why your eyes hurt when you bend over.

Types of Eye Pain and Referred Pain

Eye pain can be of several types. It can be a dull pain, sharp pain, continuous pain, clustered pain, some describe it as extreme pain like getting stabbed. Others describe pains similar to headaches.

It feels like the pain is on the actual surface or around the eye but the root cause might be somewhere else. This is called referred pain. When there is an internal injury or condition inside an organ and the pain is felt on the surface of the body it is known as referred pain.

Accompanied Symptoms With Eye Pain

Even though eye pain can occur on its own it is often accompanied by several symptoms. Identifying these symptoms correctly will lead to a proper diagnosis of the condition. The other symptoms that might manifest are:

  • Redness of the eye
  • Excessive tear production
  • Raised temperature or fever
  • Numbness around the eye
  • Weakness in eye movement
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Pressure around the sinuses

Pain While Bending Over

The pain in the eye while bending over is majorly caused by orbital conditions and sinus congestions. Several diabetic eye diseases are also responsible for headaches and eye pain.

Lesions in the orbital vessels may cause pain during a significant movement like laying down, bending over, coughing, exercise, etc. CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasonographic tests would be able to identify such lesions.

Common Causes of Eye Pain

The eyes are a sensitive organ. It has a great chance of being damaged or developing a condition if they are not taken care of properly. Then again there might be some genetic or underlying conditions that may lead to eyesight problems or eye pain. Here we have discussed several problems that may lead to eye pain.

If you have any doubts about your symptoms and have persistent pain then you must immediately contact your eye specialist.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are one of the chief causes of eye pain. Sinuses are cavities filled with air that are situated centering the bridge of the nose. Humans have four pairs of sinuses. These sinuses are named according to the name of the bone that they reside in. Firstly we have the maxillary sinus which is present in the cheeks one on each side of the nose.

Secondly, we have the ethmoidal sinuses residing in the ethmoid bone on both sides of the bridge of the nose. The frontal sinuses are present on our forehead. One on each side above the nose.

Finally, the sphenoidal sinuses are present inside the sphenoid bone near the base of the skull surrounded by the pituitary gland and the optic nerve.

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Upon inflammation of the sinuses also known as sinusitis or due to other infections there might be an accumulation of fluid in the sinus cavities. It might cause them to become clogged. As a result, it creates excessive pressure around the nose and the optic nerves resulting in pain. You may also experience additional symptoms like nasal discharge, fatigue, congestion, etc. The pain gets worse upon changing position like bending over or laying down.

Decongestants and over the counter painkillers may be taken to get relief from the pain. Inhaling steam may help with the clogged sinuses. If the meds show no significant result or if the pain persists then it is advisable to seek help from a general physician.

Dry eyes

One of the main causes of pain at the back of the eye or in and around the eye is dry eyes. Due to lack of proper lubrication, the cornea dries up which eventually causes pain. Tears are the main form of lubrication for the eye.

When there is reduced production of tears on the eye there is a lack of lubrication. Sometimes the person does not blink the required amount of times as a result the tears don’t spread around so well. Which eventually causes dry eyes.

The additional symptoms that you may face are irritation, grittiness, itching, redness, excessive watering of eyes, etc. Using sterile eye drops should help with treating this problem. If the problem is not resolved within a few days, then your eye specialist must be consulted.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

The conjunctiva is a mucus membrane that covers the cornea. The white part of the eye also known as the sclera, and the underside of the palpebrae commonly known as the eyelid. There are numerous delicate blood vessels present under the conjunctiva.

When these small blood vessels burst and cause bleeding on the white of the eyes it is known as subconjunctival bleeding or subconjunctival hemorrhage. Serious pain or problems in vision might not occur. However, the redness of the eyes is persistent. Usually, painkillers will not contribute much to resolving the problem.

Then again redness of the eyes may indicate several dangerous conditions of the eyes. If the redness persists, it is best to consult your ophthalmologist. The suggested treatment might include the usage of eye drops or lubrication.

Refractive error

You might have developed a refractive error if you are facing difficulty focusing on objects at a distance or having to squint while reading. Refractive errors often tend to cause pain in the back of eyes as well as headaches.

You might need refractive correction. It is necessary to get your eyes checked by your ophthalmologist to determine your eye power. The options you have in this case are powered glasses, powered contact lenses, or Lasik surgery.

Scleritis

The solid, white, and tough part of the eye is known as the sclera. When inflammation of the sclera occurs it is known as scleritis. Due to this condition, there is a production of pain behind the eye as well as the presence of pain upon eye movement.

Sensitivity to light and redness of the eye are accompanying symptoms. Even though there might not be any underlying cause, conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and scleroderma may cause such conditions.

Diabetes and Eye Pain

Diabetes is a condition where there is a consistent presence of high levels of sugar in the blood due to the insensitivity to insulin or diminished production of insulin.

The types of diabetes are Type-1, Type-2, Gestational diabetes. Any diabetic patient must be careful about their eyes and feet. Excessive blood sugar should always be kept under check as it might lead to several eye diseases.

Glaucoma

Diabetic patients are at a high risk of developing glaucoma. History of glaucoma in the family, as well as age, acts as a huge risk factor. Due to the presence of high blood sugar, there is excessive pressure build up in the eyes. This causes pinching of the optic nerve and blood vessels, as a result, there is obstruction of blood flow in the retina which causes blurring of vision. The high pressure causes pain in the back of the eyes. If you notice such signs you must consult your doctor immediately because the earlier the condition is diagnosed there is a greater chance for a full recovery.

Diabetic Retinopathy

The disorders of the retina caused due to diabetes are generally referred to as retinopathy. It is of two types: Proliferative and non-proliferative.

i. Non-Proliferative Retinopathy

In this case, the small capillaries behind the eyes swell up and form pouches which exert pressure on the surrounding blood vessels causing pain and blurry vision. This retinopathy progresses through three stages namely mild, moderate, and severe.

ii. Proliferative Retinopathy

Non-proliferative retinopathy deteriorates to form proliferative retinopathy. Blood vessels get so damaged that they stop working. In turn, new blood vessels form which are weak and feeble and cannot function properly. Scar tissue may also form which would cause detachment of the retina which is a painful condition indeed.

Cataract

Patients with diabetes are in a greater chance of developing cataracts. A translucent cloudy film covers the eye lens as a result light cannot pass through and reach the retina. Hence resulting in an inability to see properly.

Precautions

  • Maintenance of  proper blood sugar level and blood pressure
  • Proper caring of the eyes and feet
  • Knowing the family history of diseases
  • A regular check-up by an ophthalmologist
  • Wearing properly powered glasses
  • Reduction of screen time
  • Leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

When to See a Doctor

Eye pain isn’t something that should raise alarm. But there might be some underlying conditions. If you face the following symptoms it is advised to go visit your doctor immediately

  • If you’re having loss of vision
  • If your eyes are bulging out
  • If you’re having a high temperature or fever
  • Your headaches are getting more frequent
  • If you’re suffering from facial numbness or swelling

Final Words

Eye pain while bending over may have several underlying causes. Proper testing and check-up are necessary to diagnose the condition correctly. Take care of your eyes and look out for symptoms. If you’re concerned about your condition then pay a visit to your doctor accordingly.

FAQs

Q. Why do my eyes hurt when I move them up and down?

Your eyes may hurt when you move them up and down due to eye strain. Sinus infection and subconjunctival hemorrhage might also be a cause. It is advisable to visit your general physician if the pain is too concerning.

Q. Why do my eyes hurt while looking side to side?

Infections and conditions like multiple sclerosis may cause pain when looked side to side. Sinusitis may also cause such problems.

Q. How can I relieve eye pressure?

Eye pressure can be caused by sinus pressure. Surgery might be necessary to relieve sinus pressure. However, headaches due to eye pressure can be resolved by over the counter painkillers like Tylenol, aspirins, etc.

Q. How do you know that eye pain is serious?

Eye pain can be serious and might need immediate medical help if the following symptoms occur:

  • There is a blurring of vision
  • You are feeling nauseous or vomiting is occurring
  • You are experiencing facial numbness
  • You are experiencing pain due to coming in contact with chemicals

Q. Why do my eyes hurt while looking at the phone?

Our eyes are not accustomed to looking at bright sources of light. The brightness of the screen causes excessive glare which in turn causes eye strain. Looking at your phone in the dark worsens the situation. Try to avoid using your phone in the dark. Or opt for using dark mode or blue light filters.

SM Kamal Hasan

Dr. SM Kamal Hasan, MBBS(Medicine), Rangpur Medical College and Hospital Rangpur- Dinajpur Highway, Cantt, Near Central Jail, Rangpur 5400, Bangladesh

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