Chronic Tearing / Watery Eyes (Epiphora)

What is Chronic Tearing / Watery Eyes?

Your body produces tears to protect your eyes from dust and other foreign materials. Tears are produced by your tear glands, which are located under your upper eyelids. They are then drained away through your tear ducts near the bottom of your eye.

Watery eyes, also known as epiphora occurs when your body produces excessive tears or your tears are unable to drain away through the tear duct. Fortunately, epiphora may stop on it's own and there are a number of at-home measures can help reduce its symptoms.

Symptoms of Chronic Tearing / Watery Eyes

The primary symptom of epiphora is watery eyes. This can range from slightly watery to an excessive near constant flow of tears. Other symptoms of watery eyes can include:

  • Eye redness
  • Eye soreness or sharp pain in the eyes
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Enlarged blood vessels in the eyes that become visible
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Causes and Diagnosis of Chronic Tearing / Watery Eyes

Possible causes of watery eyes include:

  • Cold, flu, or sinus infection
  • Wind
  • Injury to the face, nose
  • A foreign object irritating your eye
  • Injury that causes structural or functional changes to the eyelid
  • Allergies such as hay fever or allergic rhinitis
  • An eye infection or inflammation of the eye or eyelid such as keratitis, pink eye, a stye, or an infected ingrown eyelash
  • A tear duct that becomes obstructed or narrowed due to a foreign object, inflammation, or infection
  • Some medications can cause excessive tear production

Diagnosis of epiphora will include an examination of your eyes and eyelids. Your doctor may also use a lighted scope to observe your eye's blood vessels. Your tears and any pus or eye discharge may also be tested to determine if there is a bacterial or viral infection causing your watery eyes.

Treatment for Chronic Tearing / Watery Eyes

Treatment for watery eyes will depend on the specific cause. Treatments for Epiphora can include:

  • Flushing out foreign objects with clean water
  • Treating or avoiding allergy triggers
  • Allowing a viral infection to run its course or treating a bacterial infection with antibiotics
  • Use of a warm compress to help clear tear duct blockages

Watery eyes can affect people of any age and your body will usually resolve the issue on its own. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, it could be signs of a more serious infection or problem with your eyes and you should schedule a visit with your doctor.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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