Ocular Discomfort

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A generic expression when there is lack of ease in/about the eyes. Alternatively, you can think of ocular discomfort as a condition when you just ‘feel’ your eyes as we do not normally feel them rather look through them; we do not feel flow of tear, globe movements, blinking, etc. This is similar to dyspnea and palpitation in which you feel the breathing or the heartbeat; and this is undesirable.

Categories and Spectrum

The expression covers a wide range of symptoms which are culture and language dependent; following expressions are used by English speaking people:

  1. Foreign body sensation category: gritty, sandy, and granular sensation (on blinking), feeling something in the eye, feel as if there is a grain of sand or eyelash in your eye;
  2. Burning category: stinging, irritation, soreness, dryness;
  3. Allergic category: itching, scratchiness;
  4. Pain category: aching, eye strain, deep/dull (orbital/brow) pain, heaviness, headache around the eye, sharp pain, stabbing sensation, sharp pin, throbbing, beating, pulsating, pain on movement, tenderness (to touch);
  5. Fatigue category (asthenopia): tiredness, need/desire to close, bother when open and close the eyes, feel more comfortable with the eyes closed;
  6. Sensitivity category: photosensitivity, sensitivity to wind;
  7. Discharge category: secretion, tearing, watering, discharge (ropy), mucus, crusting;
  8. Autonomic symptoms: heat, warmth, coldness;
  9. Pain with eye movements;
  10. Miscellaneous category: redness, tingling, blinking;

Disease Conditions

They are used for acute/self-limiting conditions but ‘ocular discomfort’ is more suitably used for chronic states, like: dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, allergic conjunctivitis, ocular surface toxicity and irritation, lacrimal drainage problems, and cicatricial and eyelid disorders. Idiopathic photophobia and functional problems like hyperopia, phorias, and the condition ‘Computer Fatigue Syndrome’ also cause ocular discomfort; the term 'Asthenopia' is the related technical word.

Additional Resources