Why do your eyes feel numb? (+3 reasons)

In this article, we will discuss the reasons for your eyes to feel numb. We will also discuss how you may prevent eye numbness and further damage to your eyes.

Why do your eyes feel numb?

Your eyes may feel numb due to the diminished function of the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve dividing into ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular nerves. Your eyes may feel numb due to the following factors:

  • A problem in your eyes, including trauma to the ocular nerve and blood vessels,
  • Disease conditions such as diabetes, nerve damage, shingles, allergies,
  • Medications such as phenytoin, ciprofloxacin and anaesthetics,
  • Environmental factors.

Most cases of eye numbness are not serious. If you are experiencing persistent eye numbness due to an unidentifiable cause, consult your ophthalmologist immediately. Your opthalmologist will take your medical history to identify the root cause.

A problem in your eyes

Eye strain and fatigue may cause numbness in the eye. You may find it difficult to keep your eyes open. You may also experience blurry vision, soreness in your eyes, increased sensitivity to light, headache, and watery and dry eyes.

Eye trauma may also cause eye numbness. It is more common in athletes, especially boxers. Complications of blunt ocular trauma may also develop years after the person retires from sports. Children are also prone to ocular injuries due to accidental trauma (1).

Temporary vision problems and eye numbness may also occur due to auras, a symptom of migraine and other headaches. It may also cause blurry vision, changes in speech, hallucinations, and muscle weakness.

Disease condition

Unresolved diabetes mellitus can damage the ophthalmic nerve and blood vessels (diabetic retinopathy) within the eye. This may cause numbness of the eye and blurred vision (2).

An early symptom of Herpes ophthalmicus (shingles), caused by chickenpox virus, is eye numbness and tingling sensation. The disease progresses to cause swelling and redness of the eyes. The swelling often makes the eyes difficult to open (3).

Allergic reactions to various endogenous and exogenous materials may cause numbness, excessive tearing and swelling of the eyes. Seasonal hay fever and rhinitis are common examples of allergies.

You may be allergic to the antibiotic given for ophthalmic use. Sometimes excipients used in ophthalmic ointment, creams, and vehicles used in eyedrops may also cause numbness and allergic reactions (3).


Proparacaine is a local topical ophthalmic anaesthetic that causes eye numbness for diagnostic and operative procedures. The duration of action of proparacaine is about 10-20 minutes. If you still feel eye numbness after half an hour, consult your ophthalmologist.

Rarely, phenytoin may cause numbness in the eye. Phenytoin is an antiseizure drug which is used for the treatment of epilepsy and seizures (4). Ciprofloxacin ophthalmic preparation is also known to cause burning, tingling, numbness, and tearing immediately after application.

Environmental factors

Eye numbness and tingling are also common if an eyelash or dust particle becomes stuck in your eye. These agents may sometimes cause an allergic reaction, that may intensify the feeling of numbness, pain, and swelling.

What does research suggest?

In one of the clinical studies, 1012 patients with diabetes millitus were assessed for complications associated with the disease. Eye numbness was reported by 19% of the patients. Other complaints included leg pain, fatigue, polyphagia, and paresthesia (5).

In a clinical report, a 30-year-old woman reported numbness, redness, and mild pain in her right eye. She was diagnosed with extraocular muscle enlargement and a dilated superior ophthalmic vein. She was given topical antihypertensives to reduce intraocular pressure (6).

In another case report, 7 out of 41 patients treated for trigeminal neuralgia by gamma knife radiosurgery reported eye numbness and parathesis after 9-24 months of surgery. Additionally, 3 out of 41 patients reported dry eyes (7).

How to manage eye numbness?

The management of eye numbness is done according to the factor causing such symptoms because eye numbness itself is not a disease. For temporary relief, you may put a warm compress on your eyes to relax the muscles.

Talk to doctor

The first step in diagnosing and treating eye numbness is to talk to your opthalmologist. Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist and keep track of your symptoms, intensity, and duration to share with your doctor.

Your doctor will prescribe you medications for the underlying disease causing eye numbness. In some cases, such as diabetes mellitus, dose adjustment would be required. 


Your doctor may prescribe medication for the underlying disease with the intent to reduce associated eye numbness, including:

  • Antidiabetic drug: Metformin is the initial drug of choice for diabetes mellitus. Other antidiabetic agents include repaglinide, and glipizide (8).

Metformin should not be taken on an empty stomach as it may cause diarrhoea. Extended-release metformin is often prescribed to reduce the occurrence of side effects including diarrhoea.

  • Corticosteroids: Nasal corticosteroids are an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. Examples include beclomethasone, fluticasone, and triamcinolone.
  • Antihistamines: These drugs are used to treat allergic rhinitis. They reduce the release of histamine. Examples include cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratidine.

I often experience eye numbness due to allergies. You may also experience eye numbness and tingling sensations during extreme cold weather. You should always take eye numbness seriously as the eyes are a sensitive part. It may disrupt your vision if not corrected early.

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Corrales G, Curreri A. Eye trauma in boxing. Clinics in sports medicine. 2009 Oct 1;28(4):591-607. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278591909000489


Balaji R, Duraisamy R, Kumar MP. Complications of diabetes mellitus: A review. Drug Invention Today. 2019 Jan 15;12(1). https://web.s.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=09757619&AN=134240957&h=PkQgULGQao%2fkSXBBTYFFx%2bsctP3jUkq0gIqPRLb0Qb5Mc9KRU7O4Lk%2bZtRG3qduSJSkH%2buyjFaaeFpG%2fJe9bJw%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d09757619%26AN%3d134240957


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Biswas R, Halder A. A rare case report of giant cell tumor of the sphenoid bone in a patient who developed “erythema multiforme associated with phenytoin and cranial radiation therapy syndrome”. Asian Journal of Neurosurgery. 2018 Sep;13(03):877-80. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/pdf/10.4103/ajns.AJNS_352_16.pdf


Qureshi SS, Amer WA, Farooq M, Butt NF, Shoaib Z, Firdous S. Clinical presentations of type II diabetes. Pak JMed Health Sci. 2017 Jan 1;11:108-. https://www.pjmhsonline.com/2017/jan_march/pdf/108.pdf


Ali MH, Jones S, Moss HE. Unilateral Proptosis, Redness, Diplopia, and Numbness in a Young Woman. JAMA ophthalmology. 2016 Nov 1;134(11):1325-6. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/article-abstract/2551689


Matsuda S, Serizawa T, Sato M, Ono J. Gamma knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia: the dry-eye complication. Journal of neurosurgery. 2002 Dec 1;97(Supplement 5):525-8. https://thejns.org/view/journals/j-neurosurg/97/10005/article-p525.xml


Ganesan K, Rana MB, Sultan S. Oral hypoglycemic medications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482386/#:~:text=Metformin%20is%20the%20initial%20drug,a%20day%20just%20before%20meals.