Eyes pain medicine: Pain-Relieving Eye Drops – American Academy of Ophthalmology

Pain-Relieving Eye Drops – American Academy of Ophthalmology

What Are Pain-Relieving Eye Drops?

Eye pain can be caused by any number of things. It is most common after having eye surgery, an eye injury, or an infection. It is also a symptom of eye allergies and occasionally dry eye. For relief and healing, your ophthalmologist can prescribe pain-relieving eye drops.

There are generally three different types of eye drops used for pain relief. They include:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): These eye drops work by reducing a substance in the body that increases the feeling of pain and causes swelling. These may be used when healing from eye surgery, injury or infection, and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: Like NSAIDs, corticosteroids reduce substances in the body that cause swelling and inflammation. These drugs, too, may be used when healing from eye surgery, injury or infection.
  • Local anesthetics: These numbing eye drops are given by your ophthalmologist to block the eye’s nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. (Did you know that the cornea has more nerve endings than any other part of the body? That’s why poking yourself in the eye hurts so much!) These are used to make eye exams more comfortable (such as when your eye pressure is measured) and to block pain during eye surgery.

Why Can’t I Get Pain-Relieving Eye Drops Over the Counter?

Most pain-relieving eye drops are only available by prescription for a few important reasons:

  1. When you see your ophthalmologist for eye pain relief, they can find and treat the actual cause of your pain and possibly save your sight.
  2. Your ophthalmologist knows the correct type and dose of eyedrop medicine to use for your eye condition and will prescribe that specifically for you.
  3. Some eye drops can lead to more health problems. For instance, they can lead to problems with the surface of your eye, eye infection, or other complications if they are overused or used incorrectly. Your ophthalmologist will make sure you know how often to use your eye drops, and how to put them in correctly.
  4. By prescribing your pain-relieving eye drops, your doctor can monitor your eye health closely and make sure you get the eye care you need at the right time.

When allergies or dry eyes cause stinging or burning of your eyes, some over-the-counter (no prescription required) eye drops can help. For instance, preservative-free artificial tears can be used as often as needed for relief from stinging, burning dry eyes. However, other over-the-counter drops designed to clear the red from irritated eyes can actually cause more red eye problems if used too often.

Are Pain-Relieving Eye Drops Safe?

Eye numbing anesthetic eye drops are only prescribed by your doctor and not available over the counter. When used under your ophthalmologist’s supervision, these pain-relieving eye drops are safe.

Eye numbing drops can have some side effects, such as:

  • causing blurry vision,
  • making you feel more sensitive to light,
  • causing tearing or red eyes,
  • making you feel a throbbing pain or stinging in your eye,
  • making your nose and sinuses feel numb when the drops slide from your eye into your sinuses.

Using numbing eye drops too often (whether due to having frequent eye exams or using them without your doctor’s supervision) can cause health problems. Be sure to let your ophthalmologist know if you are using these drops and they did not prescribe them.

NSAIDs for eye pain are safe when used exactly how your doctor prescribes them. They can have some side effects, including:

  • eyes stinging or burning for a few minutes after drops being put in,
  • itchy eyes,
  • red or swollen eyes,
  • puffy eyelids,
  • headache.

Corticosteroids for eye pain also are generally safe when used exactly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist. However, they usually are not intended to be used for a long time as they can cause some problems. For instance, using corticosteroid eye drops longer than recommended can make your eye pressure rise and lead to glaucoma problems. Long-term use can even lead to cataracts and possible eye infection. You may also notice a poor taste in your throat or mouth a few minutes after putting them in your eye. Your ophthalmologist will use these drops on a limited basis for eye pain relief while treating the issue causing your pain.

Eye Pain – What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 3, 2023.

  • Care notes
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What causes eye pain?

Eye pain may be caused by a problem within your eye. A problem or condition in another body area can also cause pain that travels to your eye. Eye pain may be caused by any of the following:

  • Dry eyes
  • An abrasion on your cornea (the surface of your eye)
  • A foreign body in your eye
  • Inflammation of a nerve, gland, or muscle in your eye
  • Certain types of glaucoma (increased pressure inside your eye that can cause vision loss)
  • A sinus infection or jaw pain
  • Headaches, including migraine or cluster headaches

How is the cause of eye pain diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your eyes and ask when your pain began. He or she will also ask if you have other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light. Tell him or her if you ever had eye surgery or an eye injury. Tell him or her if you wear glasses or contact lenses. Also tell him or her the names of medicines you take, and if you have allergies or health conditions. You may need the following tests:

  • A visual acuity test checks your vision in both eyes. You will be asked to read letters and numbers from a chart.
  • A slit-lamp exam uses a microscope to check every part of your eye for inflammation or injury. A dye may be used to look for damage to your cornea.
  • A fluorescein stain test uses dye to show if you have a foreign body in your eye. It can also reveal damage to your cornea.
  • A tonometry test measures the pressure inside your eye to check for glaucoma. Your provider will numb your eyes with eyedrops before he or she checks your eye pressure.

How is eye pain treated?

  • Artificial tears are eyedrops that can help moisturize your eyes and relieve your pain. Ask your provider how often to use artificial tears.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor’s order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • Your eye pain gets worse when you move your eyes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have any vision loss.
  • You have sudden vision changes such as blurred vision, double vision, or seeing halos around lights.
  • You develop severe eye pain.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User’s use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Painkiller drops – medicine for the eyes. Portal vseozrenii – all about eye drops and tablets.

Article updated on 12/28/2019

Anesthetic eye drops should be used strictly under medical supervision

Contents worth dripping anesthetic drops

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops
  • When not to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops
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    Types of pain drops

    Eye pain drops should be used strictly under medical supervision

    Eye pain drops act locally to block pain in the nerve endings of the eye.

    According to the mechanism of action, they are divided into two main groups:

    • Anesthetic drops
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops


    Anesthetic eye drops

    Anesthetic pain drops for the eyes block nerve conduction for a certain time. The drugs in this group include: Lidocaine, Inocaine, Alkain, etc. The analgesic effect occurs 1-2 minutes after application and lasts from 15-20 minutes.

    These pain drops are used in the following cases:

    • Before removal of foreign bodies from the surface of the eye
    • During diagnostic procedures (gonioscopy, contact tonometry, Schirmer test)
    • As first aid for eye injuries
    • In eye surgery for superficial anesthesia

    Pain drops for the eyes should be used strictly under medical supervision.


    When not to administer anesthetic drops

    Do not administer topical anesthetic drops alone when the cause of eye pain is unknown

    Do not administer local anesthetic drops in this group when the cause of ocular pain is unknown. With prolonged use, local anesthetics cause severe and irreversible damage to the cornea.

    Some patients with eye pain of neuralgic origin instill these pain drops without a doctor’s prescription. Unfortunately, this often leads to clouding of the cornea and loss of vision.


    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. The most common drugs in this group are Diclofenac, Broxinac, Indocollir.

    The mechanism of action is fundamentally different from local anesthetics. It consists in reducing the synthesis of substances that cause pain and inflammation. Therefore, the analgesic effect of these drops is not observed immediately, but some time after the start of their use.

    These anesthetic eye drops are prescribed in the following cases:

    • After eye surgery
    • To relieve pain after laser surgery
    • In inflammatory eye diseases (iridocyclitis, scleritis, etc.)

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    When do not drip non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops

    Slight blurring and loss of vision may occur when using eye painkiller drops for the eyes

    Do not instill anesthetic eye drops in this group if you are allergic to acetylsalicylic acid. Use with caution in inflammation of the cornea.

    Please be aware that slight blurring and blurring of vision may occur when using these anesthetic eye drops.

    It must be remembered that most nonsteroidal eye drops have serious (often irreversible) side effects. Self-administration of such drugs is unacceptable.

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    Eye drops – relief from burning and dry eyes



    Treatment of pain in the eyes

    General recommendations



    Burning, itching in the eyes and an unpleasant feeling of dryness is one of the symptoms of possible problems. An uncomfortable state can be a signal of the onset of a serious illness, banal overwork, or information about the need to replace the brand of contact lenses. Let’s figure out what eye drops are for, and whether they can be limited to avoiding burning and discomfort.


    Stinging and burning in the eyes, which in itself is a typical symptom of some ophthalmic diseases, usually goes in tandem with the following symptoms:

    • redness of the conjunctiva;
    • vascular changes;
    • burning sensation in the eyes and tearing;
    • reduced visual acuity and quality;
    • Headache associated with severe eye strain.
    Causes of pain

    Pain in the eyes can be experienced for many reasons. For example, due to excessively bright light, especially in winter or in the mountains. In this situation, to get rid of the symptom, it is enough to protect the cornea with sunglasses and apply moisturizing drops in case of irritation. But not all reasons are so harmless. Often pain in the eyes is caused by serious diseases, lifestyle and other factors. Consider some of them:

    Inflammatory conditions

    Inflammation of the mucous membrane – conjunctiva, in addition to burning, may be accompanied by swelling of the eyelids, pus. And with attacks of trigeminal neuralgia, a sudden burning pain is added to the cramps.

    Viruses and infections

    Discomfort in the eyes can provoke many viral and bacterial infectious diseases that are not directly related to ophthalmology. So, a feeling of sand sometimes occurs during acute respiratory diseases, influenza, measles, if the sick person does not comply with hygiene standards, allowing viruses or bacteria to enter the mucous membrane through the hands. For the same reason, tick parasitism on the face with demodicosis may be accompanied by swelling and a burning sensation in the eyes.

    Dry eye syndrome

    This condition, characterized by a decrease in the natural level of moisture on the mucous membrane, is often diagnosed in IT workers or those who, due to their profession, spend a long time in front of a screen or deal with small details. The visual muscles, fixed in one state, tense, this disrupts normal blood flow, depriving the cells of the necessary oxygen supply. Due to increased concentration, a person tries to blink less often, which causes dryness of the sclera. Without periodic breaks for rest, such work eventually leads to constant tension.


    With mechanical damage to the outer shell, pain becomes a logical consequence. In addition, similar sensations cause:

    • Dust, sand, acrid smoke.
    • Contact with the mucous membrane of any foreign body: a piece of tissue, eyelashes or metal shavings.
    • Chemical Exposure: Vapors from harsh household chemicals affect the ability to see, causing redness, tearing, and pain
    • Tattoo done by non-professionals or using poor quality materials.


    The reaction of the body to allergens is manifested not only by a stuffy nose, but also by redness of the conjunctiva, heavy swollen eyelids, tearing and itching.

    Incorrect selection of optics, lenses

    Spectacles with lenses must be selected according to the type of vision and compatibility. Inappropriate or low-quality optics causes:

    1. Corneal hypoxia and further reduction in visual acuity.
    2. Allergic reaction to ingredients in contact lens solutions.
    3. Disturbances in the work of the lacrimal glands and, as a result, the occurrence of pain, cutting sensations.
    4. Irritation and injury to the surface of the cornea.

    It is important to know that due to individual characteristics, in particular the increased sensitivity of the cornea, some people, in principle, cannot use contact optics, no matter how high-quality it is.


    Cluster (bundle) cephalalgia occurs infrequently. Pain in the upper part of the skull and accompanying discomfort in the organs of vision are usually stimulated by:

    • smoking and drinking alcohol;
    • hypothalamic dysfunction;
    • malfunctions of the autonomic nervous system;
    • vascular pathologies.

    Intraocular pressure

    Increased ophthalmotonus or pressure in the eyeball, together with clouding and pain, is a characteristic sign of glaucoma, a dangerous ophthalmic pathology leading to total blindness. With these symptoms, it is impossible to postpone a visit to the doctor.

    Pain in the morning

    A similar problem is especially familiar:

    • women who go to bed without washing off their make-up;
    • elderly patients;
    • for those who like to read for a long time in the twilight or sit at the screen of a computer, smartphone

    Eye pain treatment

    Eye drops

    This type of medicine effectively relieves symptoms by quickly helping the visual muscles to relax. What drops to take in a pharmacy? It is important that the choice of drug occurs during a consultation with an ophthalmologist, because different drugs treat different pathologies.

    Moisturizing from Solopharm:

    • Inexpensive eye drops Gilan Comfort or Ultra Comfort are suitable to protect dryness and eliminate cutting sensations. Thanks to the sodium hyaluronate solution included in the composition, a thin film is formed on the surface of the cornea, which protects the eyes from drying out, irritation and the development of inflammation. Gilan ophthalmic solution starts working immediately after application. The drug is compatible with all types of contact lenses, it is allowed during pregnancy, and thanks to the convenient form of release, it is a pleasure to drip Gilan.
    • Aqua Optic Aqua Optic is a unique multifunctional solution for lenses designed for quality daily care of all types of contact lenses. The agent of hyaluronic and succinic acid in the composition not only reliably disinfects optics, but also takes care of eye health, moisturizing, reducing the risk of hypoxia.

    If discomfort is caused by pathogenic microorganisms and the inflammation they trigger, ophthalmologists can prescribe an ointment with a therapeutic antibacterial effect.

    In the presence of microtraumas, chemical burns, ointments with restorative, healing properties are used.

    As a medical support in the treatment of fungal, infectious and viral diseases

    General recommendations

    For eye comfort, it is necessary to reduce the load placed on them, treat viral and infectious diseases in a timely manner. Always wear sunglasses with UV protection when traveling in sunny countries.

    If you wear contact lenses due to the condition of your eyesight, work frequently and concentratedly at the computer, drive a vehicle, doctors recommend supplementing your cosmetic bag with moisturizing eye drops. This foresight will help at the right time to protect the organs of vision from fatigue and pain.

    Life hacks to quickly alleviate the condition:

    • during the day, arrange an hour detox from all gadgets;
    • take short but frequent breaks from work, during which dim the lights, close your eyes, relax;
    • ventilate and humidify the place where you are;
    • perform eye exercises;
    • go for a walk;
    • wash with warm water.


    An ophthalmologist or therapist is engaged in identifying the cause of a symptom if an unpleasant feeling when it hurts the eyes is a consequence of a respiratory disease.

    Diagnosis is made on the basis of:

    1. Interviews with the patient and identification of hereditary factors, existing chronic diseases and additional symptoms that may seem obscure.
    2. Examination of the applicant using an ophthalmoscope. The method allows you to study the state of the vessels of the fundus, retina, cornea.
    3. Examination of the patient’s vision.
    4. Laboratory examinations, in particular scraping from the surface of the conjunctiva.
    5. Basic health check: appointment for general blood and urine tests. Measurement of temperature and blood pressure.


    The basic rules for the prevention of visual pathologies are obvious and understandable.

    It has long been known that the eyes are the window to the soul. However, the organs of vision are not only a mirror, but also a door for all kinds of external stimuli: diseases, microparticles, dirty and dry air, and poor-quality cosmetics.

    Therefore, in order to maintain health, beauty and the ability to see, it is better to follow the general recommendations:

    • Balance work and leisure. You need to understand that social networks and computer games are not a vacation, but rather work for your eyes, so it’s better to find time in a busy schedule for a regular walk in the park.
    • Choose monitors with protection, and lenses, glasses – with suppression of computer influence.
    • Contact optics must be properly stored and changed in a timely manner.
    • Decorative cosmetics and creams must be fresh, anti-allergic. To prevent infections, it is better to protect the face area from foreign bacteria as much as possible, it is not recommended to use other people’s things
    • Fresh food, with a sufficient amount of vitamins, trace elements and beneficial acids is the key to health.