• Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Neuro-Ophthalmology/Orbit

    This study assessed the most common causes of eye pain in a cross-section of patients treated during a 2-year period.

    Study design

    Researchers retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 2,603 patients who were evaluated for eye pain at the departments of ophthalmology and neurology of the University Hospital Zurich, University of Zürich in Switzerland, and the University of Utah in the United States. Data were analyzed from January 2012 to December 2013.


    Inflammatory eye disease—including conjunctivitis, blepharitis, keratitis, uveitis, dry eye, chalazion and scleritis—was the underlying cause of eye pain in 1,801 (69.1%) of all patients analyzed. Although migraine was determined to be the cause of eye pain in only 3% of patients seen in ophthalmology clinics, migraine was the predominant cause of eye pain reported by neurology clinics, affecting 51% of patients.


    The study population was somewhat limited, including only patients at major academic centers in Utah and Zurich.

    Clinical significance

    Eye pain may stem from a number of different causes, some benign and others sight- or life-threatening. Because patients with eye pain may present to either a neurology or an ophthalmology clinic, and because the causes of eye pain may be primarily ophthalmic or neurologic in nature, the diagnosis and management of these patients often requires collaboration and consultation between the 2 specialties.