A feeling of pressure behind your eyes doesn’t always stem from a problem inside your
eyes. It usually starts in another part of your head. Though eye conditions can cause eye
pain and vision problems, they rarely cause pressure. Even glaucoma, which is caused by
a buildup of pressure inside the eye, doesn’t cause a feeling of pressure. Eye conditions
like pink eye or allergies can cause eye pain, but not pressure. Pain generally feels like a
stabbing, burning, or stinging sensation. Pressure behind the eyes feels like fullness or a
stretching sensation inside the eye.

A few conditions can cause pressure behind the eye, including:

• sinus problems
• headaches
• Graves’ disease
• damage to the optic nerve
• tooth pain

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, happens when bacteria or viruses get into the space
behind your nose, eyes, and cheeks. These germs cause your sinuses to swell up and
your nose to fill with mucus. With a sinus infection, you’ll feel pressure in the upper part
of your face, including behind your eyes. Additional symptoms of sinusitis may include:

• pain behind your nose, eyes, and cheeks
• stuffed nose but not always
• mucus, which might be thick, yellow, or green, draining from your nose
• cough
• bad breath
• headache
• ear pain or pressure
• fever
• fatigue

Headaches: Two types of headaches, tension and cluster headaches, can cause a
feeling of pressure behind the eyes.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, affecting nearly 80
percent of people.

Cluster headaches are an extremely painful type of headache that comes and goes.
You might get cluster headaches for a few days or weeks, and then not have any
headaches for many months or years.

In addition to pressure behind the eye, symptoms of a headache may include:

• pain in your head that feels tight, aching, or intense
• soreness in your neck and shoulder muscles
• red, teary eyes
• redness or sweating of your face
• swelling on one side of your face
• drooping eyelid

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to
mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. This makes the gland release too much of its
hormone. Graves’ disease affects the eye muscles, causing the eyes to bulge. Many
people with this disease also have a feeling of pressure behind their eyes, which gets
worse when they move their eyes. Additional symptoms may include:
• bulging eyes
• eye pain
• feeling like there’s something in your eye
• puffy eyelids
• red eyes
• vision loss

Optic neuritis
Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) or lupus can cause swelling, or
inflammation, behind the eye. This swelling can damage the optic nerve, which transmits
visual information from your eyes to your brain. Optic neuritis can cause pain that might
feel like pressure or an ache behind your eye. You may also experience:

• vision loss in one eye
• loss of side vision or color vision
• pain that gets worse when you move your eyes
• flashing lights when you move your eyes
• Tooth pain

It might seem unlikely that your teeth could affect your eyes, but a problem with your
bite or jaw alignment can make you tense the muscles of your face. This muscle tension
can cause a headache, which may include a feeling of pain and pressure behind your