August 16, 2023
Why Does My Eye Feel Bruised When I Blink?
Blinking is an involuntary and nearly constant activity. Most people blink 15 to 20 times per minute. This momentary closing and reopening of the eye is important for overall eye health. It ensures that your eyes stay oxygenated and well moisturized. It also helps remove any debris from the surface of the eye.
Occasionally, blinking can feel uncomfortable or painful. Some people describe the sensation as feeling as if the eye or eyelid is bruised. There are a variety of reasons why your eye feels bruised when you blink.
11 Causes of Painful Blinking
The causes of painful blinking range from injury to infection and beyond. Depending on the cause, you may need to see your doctor to find relief from painful blinking.
Any injury to the eye or the eyelid can lead to painful blinking. You might experience pain if you receive a blow to the face near the eye and the area is swollen and bruised. Injuries to the eye itself are also a cause of eye pain, and they can be very serious. Chemical burns caused by substances such as acids, alkali ingredients found in cleaning products, or other irritants can cause significant eye pain. If you have injured your eye, you should see a doctor right away to prevent damage to your vision.
2. Corneal Abrasion
The cornea is the outermost layer of clear tissue that covers the iris and pupil. The delicate tissue of the corneal is susceptible to scratches that can cause pain while blinking. Corneal abrasions can happen if you scratch your eye with a fingernail or if debris gets into your eye and scrapes the cornea. Mild corneal abrasions typically heal without long-term damage to the eye.
3. Corneal Ulcer
A corneal ulcer is an injury to the cornea that results in an open sore. It can develop as a complication of a corneal abrasion. They can also be the result of an infection or inflammation of the eye. Speak to your doctor right away if you suspect you have a corneal ulcer. They may prescribe medicated eye drops to speed healing and prevent infection.
Keratitis is an infection of the cornea. They can be caused by bacteria or viruses. The infection may leave eyes feeling sore, dry, or gritty, and you may notice sensitivity to light. You should see your doctor if you think you have keratitis. You may need medicated eye drops or oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
A stye is a painful red bump that develops on the eyelid. Styes are usually caused by an infection. They typically form on the outside of the lid, but they can form on the inner surface of the eyelid as well. They may or may not be filled with pus. Styes typically resolve within a few days. Call your doctor if the stye doesn’t improve or gets worse.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the surface of the eye and the membranes inside the eyelid. It can cause pain, swelling, and significant redness. Conjunctivitis may be due to a viral infection or irritation due to allergies. Viral conjunctivitis is contagious and can spread easily via touch. Wash your hands frequently to avoid giving it to others. Your doctor can prescribe medicated eye drops to clear up a case of conjunctivitis.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It often happens when the oil glands along the lash line get blocked. This leads to swelling and redness. It can be linked to conditions such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis. Warm compresses and lubricating drops can ease discomfort.
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that leads to excessive pressure in the eyeball. The pressure may lead to pain while blinking. Without treatment, glaucoma can lead to vision loss or blindness. Glaucoma needs to be diagnosed and treated by an eye doctor.
9. Optic Neuritis
Optic neuritis is swelling of the optic nerve. The swelling can cause pain while blinking or when you move your eye. This may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The swelling will go away when the infection is treated. In some cases, optic neuritis is a symptom of multiple sclerosis, and you will need to treat the underlying condition.
10. Dry Eye
Chronic eye dryness can leave the surface of the eye sore and sensitive. Blinking may irritate the eye if there isn’t sufficient moisture from tears. Lubricating eye drops can ease discomfort. You can ask your doctor about treatment if the problem persists.
Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layers of the eye. It can be caused by infection or injury. It may also be a result of an underlying condition such as an autoimmune disease. Without prompt treatment, uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss.
Relief for Painful Blinking
Some causes of painful blinking can be managed with home care. You can relieve discomfort from a stye or blepharitis with warm compresses and keeping the area clean.
Using lubricating eye drops may help relieve pain from the swelling and pressure. Lubricating eye drops may also help with dry eyes or eye irritation due to seasonal allergies. Staying indoors and avoiding allergens and irritants such as dust or mold can prevent some eye discomfort.
You may find that reducing screen time makes your eyes feel better. Some people blink less frequently while viewing screens, which can exacerbate mild irritation.
When to See a Clinician
Infections and injuries to the eye can quickly become serious and put your vision at risk. If you suspect that you have any type of injury or infection, you should see a doctor. Visit any of our locations to speak to a provider about your health.
- Hersch, Erica. “How Many Times Do You Blink in a Day?” September 24, 2020. HealthLine. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-many-times-do-you-blink-a-day
- Medical News Today. “Eleven causes of pain when blinking.” February 26, 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321041#when-to-see-a-doctor
- Mayo Clinic. “Corneal abrasion (scratch): First aid.” No date. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-corneal-abrasion/basics/art-20056659
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- Mayo Clinic. “Keratitis.” No date. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/keratitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374110
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Hordeolum (Stye).” No date. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hordeolum-stye
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- Mayo Clinic. “Blepharitis.” No date. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/blepharitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20370141
- National Eye Institute. “Glaucoma.” No date. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma
- Mayo Clinic. “Optic Neuritis.” No date. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/optic-neuritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354953
- Cleveland Clinic. “Dry Eye.” No date. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24479-dry-eye
- National Eye Institute. “Uveitis.” No date. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/uveitis
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