Insufficient tear film can lead to stinging because the tissues of the eye and inner lid may be exposed, or inadequately lubricated.

Stinging can also occur when medicinal or lubricating drops or ointments are used. Most stinging caused by drops or ointments passes after a few moments, and can be well tolerated. When drops or ointments cause severe stinging, this can be an indication of an allergy to preservatives or other components in the preparation.

To prevent stinging when using eye drops, see How to Instill Eye Drops.

If ointments cause stinging, it is usually best to avoid them.