Eye Pain! Who can help me?
February 9, 2009 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Who should I see about my 'behind the eye' pain?

Confession: I haven't taken good care of myself for the past few years due to a combination of stress, depression and drug use (smoking pot). As a result I have a few aches and pains that need assistance.

Basically: I have a constant weird tension/straining behind my right eye. It appeared during a very stressful/pot-filled year so I'm convinced (rightly or wrongly) that it has something to do with that. The reason for thinking this is that when I breathe in deep and strong I get tension in my throat/neck that then leads to tension in the spot behind my right eye. Sometimes it weeps. Sometimes the eye gets blurry after extended computer time.

I also grind my teeth predominately on the right hand side. Not sure if that effects it too.

I've stopped smoking as well. Finally.

There is a history of bad eye sight in my family. I've been to an optometrist and have been told my eyes are lazy but ok. I've got glasses that I use, but they don't ease the tension.

I've also started noticing a similar feeling on my left side behind my eyes and it's making me worried. I'm trying to put aside the fear that I've wrecked my head for life (which all of the GP's I've seen tell me is impossible) but this tension makes it hard to relax and focus on other things. I've started serious meditation but, as said before, deep breathing tends to aggravate the tension.

Who do I see about this?
posted by AzzaMcKazza to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ophthalmologist first, let them refer you to a neuro if that's what's appropriate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:05 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go back to the optometrist and tell him or her what you've told us - that the glasses don't help. If they don't have further recommendations, see another optometrist. What do the GPs say to your complaints of eye pain?

It sounds, honestly, like it's just eyestrain, probably brought on by stress (and possibly a lot of computer use). You blink less when looking at a computer screen, so your eyes dry out and vision can get blurry. Try rewetting drops and taking breaks more regularly.
posted by canine epigram at 2:08 PM on February 9, 2009

Ditto roomthreeseventeen. See an Opthamologist. NOT an optometrist.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:09 PM on February 9, 2009

Please see an opthamologist. Your symptoms suggest glaucoma. And pot does not cause but is an anecdotal cure.
posted by andreap at 2:13 PM on February 9, 2009

As a rule of thumb, pain and other symptoms (a weeping eye) should not last longer than a week. If it does, go see a doctor.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:20 PM on February 9, 2009

You might want to eventually look into a mouth guard for the teeth-grinding. It can be responsible for a surprising number of problems.
posted by bunji at 2:42 PM on February 9, 2009

Opthamologist is a good place to start. If you get dx relating to stress and tension you might check out Better Eyesight Without Glasses by Alan Bates. While there are some strong critiques of this as a method of eyesight improvment (I got results /anecdote), the exercises are designed to relax the eyes and the muscles surrounding them.
posted by pointilist at 3:13 PM on February 9, 2009

Although the symptoms fit glaucoma, it can be a dozen of different things. I agree that you should see an Opthamologist, preferably one thats part of an Optometry department in a hospital (personal experience).
As for cannabis, it relieves the pain caused by the pressure, not the pressure itself or the underlying problem. The Opthamologist will probably hook you up with something a lot more effective if you have an eye condition, so I would prepare to stop your drug use all together.

Just make sure that wether you see an Opthamologist, a Neurologist or a Apiologist, you don't get the brush-off. If there's one thing I've learned, whenever your eyes are involved, you can't be too careful.
posted by Z1LCH at 3:18 PM on February 9, 2009

Primary care provider - Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, GP, Nurse Practitioner etc... they can take your history and get a general portrait of you, your health, your social condition before sending you off to a specialist. That specialist might be an opthamologist, neurologist, or something else entirely. But it's never a bad idea to establish a relationship with a primary care person, especially if you haven't been to the doctor in ages. Who knows what they might uncover.
posted by abirae at 3:24 PM on February 9, 2009

Opthamologist, not Optometrist. Opthamologists are medical doctors, optometrists are not. Optometrists are fine for correcting bad vision, checking for typical problems, etc., but you'd probably end up referred to an opthamologist anyway if they saw anything suspicious.
posted by fructose at 4:08 PM on February 9, 2009

There are cannabinoid receptors all over the damn place in the eye, and you can find hundreds of sites claiming marijuana does in fact reduce intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients and normals.

Assuming for the moment that is true, you could be suffering from a kind of rebound effect from quitting marijuana-- that is, quitting could have made the pressure in your eyes go up.

Go to an ophthalmologist right away and get checked for glaucoma. If you delay too long and you have it, you could suffer irreversible damage to your vision.
posted by jamjam at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2009

You're in Melbourne-- where's your big teaching hospital with an ophthalmology department? You probably want to go to those guys' clinic, give them a very accurate accounting of your history, and let them check you over thoroughly. They will have regular ophthalmologists who will conduct a basic exam, and then refer you as necessary to any other specialists that might be required.

For the teeth grinding and so on-- which may or may not be related-- you want a dentist or orthodontist who specializes in grinding, TMJ, and related disorders.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:52 PM on February 9, 2009

In general, you should see a GP first, and they will likely refer you to either an ophthalmologist or a neurologist, depending on what they think your symptoms indicate. I don't know how the Aussie health system works, but this may be a problem that a GP can solve, without the added cost and time of a specialist.

I am just a medical student, but I would recommend seeing a neurologist, rather than an ophthalmologist. It sounds like, given your age, gender and constellation of symptoms, you might be suffering from cluster headaches. Cluster headaches tend to occur behind the eye, and are often associated with tearing up. There is trigeminal nerve involvement, which may be consistent with your jaw-grinding. They have a rapid onset and a short duration, but can recur several times in the same day. The neurologist will ask more about your headache pattern.

Headache should always be treated as a neurological concern first. The neurologist will send you to an ophthalmologist if he/she determines that your complaint is not neurological in nature. Better safe than sorry.
posted by honeybee413 at 1:42 AM on February 10, 2009

Cheers guys. I'm booking an appointment with a GP to get a referral to see a neurologist nd an opthamologist. Thanks for all the responses. It's certainly calmed me down a little.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 4:38 PM on February 10, 2009

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