Community Health Centers Logo

Why Does My Eye Hurt When I Blink?

why do my eyes hurt

If you experience eye pain when you blink, you may find it to be a bothersome and uncomfortable sensation. In order to understand why this occurs, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the eye and the potential causes of this symptom. While some causes of eye pain when blinking may be relatively harmless and resolve on their own, others may require medical intervention. It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if you have persistent eye pain or any other concerning symptoms.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Eye

The eye is a marvel of biological engineering, comprising a multitude of intricate structures that collaborate seamlessly to grant us the gift of sight. In addition to the eyelid and cornea, there are several other essential components within the eye that contribute to its remarkable functionality.

One such crucial structure is the lens, a flexible and transparent tissue located behind the iris. The lens is responsible for fine-tuning the focus of light onto the retina, allowing us to perceive objects clearly at varying distances. This process, known as accommodation, is made possible by the contraction and relaxation of the ciliary muscles surrounding the lens.

The Role of the Eyelid in Protecting the Eye

The eyelid, with its intricate network of muscles and delicate skin, acts as a guardian for the eye, shielding it from potential harm. Beyond its role in distributing tears to keep the eye moist, the eyelid also contains specialized glands that secrete oils to prevent tear evaporation and maintain the eye’s lubrication.

Moreover, the eyelid’s swift reflex action in response to threats such as sudden bright light or airborne particles showcases its remarkable efficiency in safeguarding the eye from external dangers, underscoring the body’s innate ability to protect one of its most precious senses.

The Cornea: The Eye’s Window

Often likened to a clear window, the cornea is a transparent dome-shaped structure that covers the front part of the eye. Its smooth curvature plays a pivotal role in bending incoming light rays to facilitate proper vision. Interestingly, the cornea is avascular, meaning it lacks blood vessels, and instead receives its nutrients and oxygen directly from the tears and aqueous humor that nourish it.

Furthermore, the cornea’s exceptional sensitivity is attributed to the dense concentration of pain receptors within its structure, making it acutely responsive to any potential damage or irritation. This heightened sensitivity serves as a vital warning system, prompting protective reflexes such as blinking or tearing to safeguard the eye from harm and maintain its optimal functioning.

Common Causes of Eye Pain When Blinking

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including eye pain when blinking. Factors such as aging, certain medications, prolonged screen time, and environmental conditions can contribute to dry eye syndrome. If you suspect dry eye syndrome, it is advisable to consult with an eye doctor for appropriate management and treatment options.

Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin, clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid). It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, allergies, or irritants. In addition to eye pain when blinking, other symptoms may include redness, itching, tearing, and discharge. It is crucial to seek medical advice for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, especially if the symptoms worsen or persist.

Corneal Abrasion or Ulcer

A corneal abrasion or ulcer refers to a scratch or open sore on the cornea. This condition can occur due to various reasons, including foreign objects, trauma, or infections. In addition to eye pain when blinking, individuals may experience sensitivity to light, tearing, redness, and blurred vision. If you suspect a corneal abrasion or ulcer, urgent medical attention is recommended to prevent potential complications and promote healing.

Aside from the aforementioned causes, there are other factors that can contribute to eye pain when blinking. One such factor is eye strain, which can occur from prolonged use of digital devices or reading in poor lighting conditions. When the eyes are overworked, it can lead to discomfort and pain, particularly when blinking.

Another possible cause of eye pain when blinking is a foreign body sensation. Sometimes, small particles such as dust, sand, or eyelashes can get trapped in the eye, causing irritation and pain. In these cases, blinking can exacerbate the discomfort as the foreign body rubs against the sensitive surface of the eye.

It is important to note that eye pain when blinking can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as corneal infections or inflammation of the eyelids. If the pain is severe, accompanied by vision changes, or persists for an extended period, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention to rule out any underlying issues and receive appropriate treatment.

Less Common Causes of Eye Pain When Blinking

Eye pain when blinking can be a distressing symptom that may indicate underlying eye conditions that require prompt medical attention. While some causes of eye pain are more well-known, such as dry eye or conjunctivitis, there are less common but serious conditions that can also lead to discomfort and pain with eye movements.


Glaucoma is a serious eye condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve over time. While eye pain is not typically associated with glaucoma, certain forms of the condition, such as acute angle-closure glaucoma, can lead to sudden and severe eye pain. In addition to eye pain when blinking, individuals with acute angle-closure glaucoma may experience symptoms like severe headache, nausea, and vision loss. Immediate medical attention is crucial to prevent permanent vision damage and potential blindness.


Uveitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye that includes the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. This inflammation can be caused by infections, autoimmune disorders, or underlying systemic conditions. Eye pain when blinking, along with symptoms like redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and floaters, can be indicative of uveitis. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential to manage uveitis effectively and prevent complications that could lead to vision loss.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the optic nerve, the crucial pathway for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. While eye pain with blinking is not the primary symptom of optic neuritis, individuals may experience discomfort or aching during eye movements. Optic neuritis is often associated with underlying conditions like multiple sclerosis. If optic neuritis is suspected, immediate medical evaluation is necessary to determine the underlying cause and start appropriate management to preserve vision and prevent further complications.

Symptoms Associated with Eye Pain When Blinking

Redness and Swelling

Eye pain when blinking may be accompanied by redness and swelling of the eye and the surrounding tissues. This can be indicative of inflammation or irritation, which may have various underlying causes.

Sensitivity to Light

Individuals experiencing eye pain when blinking may also develop sensitivity to light, medically known as photophobia. This sensitivity can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and may indicate an underlying eye condition that requires medical attention.

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision, or a decrease in visual clarity, can occur alongside eye pain when blinking. It may be a result of the underlying cause or secondary to the discomfort. Prompt evaluation by an eye care professional is vital to determine and address the cause of blurred vision.

Moreover, it is important to note that eye pain when blinking can sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms that may provide additional clues about the underlying condition. For example, some individuals may experience excessive tearing or a gritty sensation in the affected eye. These symptoms can further help in narrowing down the potential causes and guiding appropriate treatment.

Furthermore, in certain cases, eye pain when blinking can be a sign of a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. For instance, if the pain is severe and accompanied by a sudden decrease in vision, the presence of floaters or flashes of light, or a feeling of pressure in the eye, it could indicate a retinal detachment or acute angle-closure glaucoma. These conditions are considered emergencies and should be evaluated by an eye care specialist without delay.

Eye pain when blinking can have various causes, ranging from common conditions like dry eye syndrome or conjunctivitis to rarer conditions such as glaucoma or uveitis. While some cases may resolve on their own or with simple interventions, it is vital to seek advice from a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management. Remember, self-diagnosis and self-treatment can lead to delays in proper care, potentially worsening the condition. Your eye health is invaluable, so prioritize seeking professional guidance when experiencing eye pain or any other concerning symptoms.

Take the Next Step for Your Eye Health with Community Health Centers

If you’re experiencing eye pain when blinking or any other eye-related symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Community Health Centers. We offer comprehensive optometry services as part of our mission to provide quality and compassionate primary healthcare to Central Florida’s diverse communities. Our team is ready to assist you with a full range of healthcare services for the whole family, including eye exams and vision care. Request an appointment online today to ensure your eye health is in the best hands.

Please Note: While Community Health Centers has compiled the information on this page diligently and to the best of its knowledge, Community Health Centers does not assume any liability for the accuracy of the information.


Orange County

Lake County