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Pressure Behind the Eye and its Potential Risk Factors

Gina Walters


pressure behind the eye

Experiencing pressure behind the eye can be a concerning and uncomfortable sensation for many individuals.

This sensation can range from mild inconvenience to severe discomfort and irritation that affects daily activities. 

Understanding the possible causes, related symptoms, and various treatment options for pressure behind the eye is essential for effective care.

What is pressure behind the eye

Pressure behind the eye refers to discomfort or heaviness in the area around the eye socket. 

It can range from a mild irritation sensation to a severe pressure feeling. 

Pressure behind the eye can affect one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral). It may accompany other symptoms such as headaches, vision changes, or eye pain.

It’s essential to seek medical attention if this sensation persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

These symptoms may signal abnormal eye pressure, indicating an underlying health issue that requires treatment.

Recommended read: Learn all about eye pressure range to understand what is and is not normal — Eye Pressure Range: Normal, High, and Low

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  • Causes of pressure behind eyes

    Pressure behind the eye doesn’t always occur due to an eye condition. It could stem from another part of the head. 

    It occurs as a sensation of throbbing, squeezing, or tightness in the head, specifically behind the eye sockets.

    The causes of pressure behind the eye could include eye strain, headaches, sinus infection, or optic nerve damage.


    A man suffering from headacheSource: SIphotography
    Man suffering from headache

    Migraines and headaches can cause various symptoms, including pressure behind the eyes. The American Migraine Foundation observed that headaches and eye pain often occur together. 

    Headaches can be either tension-related or migraines. Besides pressure behind the eyes, the symptoms of a migraine include:

    • A throbbing pain in the head
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Blurry vision 

    Recommended read: How is eye pressure linked to headache? Clear up all your queries — A Complete Guide on Eye Pressure Headache

    Identify and avoid triggers that may be causing the headaches. These could include certain foods, drinks, or environmental factors.

    Eye strain

    Eye strain, caused by prolonged periods of focused visual activity, may result in a sensation of pressure behind the eye.

    It occurs because the eye’s muscles can become tired, affecting their ability to focus properly. 

    As a result, the eye may require more effort to maintain focus, potentially increasing pressure behind the eye socket. 

    This increased muscular activity is linked with the sensation of pressure or heaviness behind the eye. 

    Recommended read: Wondering how to treat high eye pressure? Your doubts have been answered —- How to Lower Eye Pressure and Improve Your Vision


    Sinusitis, a sinus infection, occurs when bacteria or viruses enter the area behind the nose, eyes, and cheeks. 

    These microorganisms can lead to inflammation in your sinuses and increased mucus production in your nose. 

    Individuals with a sinus infection may experience pressure in the upper region of their face, including behind or within their eyes. 

    Apart from high eye pressure, this condition also causes other symptoms such as nasal congestion, facial pain, and a reduced sense of smell.

    Optic Neuritis

    Optic Neuritis, or inflammation behind the eye, can occur due to conditions like Multiple Sclerosis or Lupus.

    It can cause an ache or pressure behind the eye along with visual disturbances, pain when you move your eyes, and flashing lights when you move your eyes.

    Struggling to differentiate between colors or noticing a change in how colors appear can be an early symptom of Optic Neuritis. 

    Grave’s disease

    Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that involves the overproduction of thyroid hormones. 

    This hormone stimulates tissues behind the eyes, causing them to swell, potentially increasing pressure on the eyeballs. 

    It may lead to bulging eyes, discomfort, and a sensation of pressure. 

    Moreover, swollen tissues can affect eye movement and contribute to pressure behind the eyes.

    Know everything about low eye pressure with our article: Low Eye Pressure: Common Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

    Diagnosis and treatment

    Eye checkup of Glaucoma patientSource: Yuganov_Konstantin
    Consult ophthalmologist

    You must seek immediate medical attention if you experience persistent or severe eye pressure. 

    It is especially important to consult a doctor if you also experience changes in vision, pain, or other concerning symptoms.

    Getting an eye pressure test for timely diagnosis and treatment is important for maintaining optimal eye health.

    The treatment for pressure behind the eye varies depending on the underlying cause. It could involve medications, lifestyle adjustments, or other interventions. 

    Seeking advice from an ophthalmologist is important for obtaining an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment.

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    Summing up

    Pressure behind the eye can arise from various causes, from benign to potentially serious. 

    Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for optimal eye health and overall well-being. 

    If you experience this sensation, seeking professional medical advice is the first step towards finding relief and ensuring the health of your eyes.

    Want to know more about foods to lower eye pressure? Read our article: Discovering the Best Foods to Reduce Eye Pressure

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How to relieve pressure behind the eye?

    Resting with closed eyes, applying a warm compress, practicing relaxation techniques, and using over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate mild pressure behind the eye. 
    However, seeking professional advice for severe or persistent pressure is crucial.

    Why do I feel pressure behind the eye when wearing contacts?

    Ill-fitting or dirty contacts can cause discomfort, leading to a feeling of pressure behind the eye. This may be due to improper fit or debris trapped between the lens and the eye.

    What does pressure behind the eye feel like?

    Pressure behind the eye can be described as a sensation of tightness, heaviness, or a mild ache. It may feel like something is pushing against the eye from within the socket.

    What causes pressure behind the eye?

    Various factors can lead to pressure behind the eye, including sinusitis, migraines, Glaucoma, optic neuritis, eye strain, and other ocular or systemic conditions.

    Can pressure behind the eyes be a brain tumor?

    Sinus issues, eye conditions, or neurological issues like brain tumors can cause pressure behind the eyes. This is a rare possibility but requires immediate medical attention.

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