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Tearing Eyes

Smita Pandit Apr 19, 2019
The problem of watering eyes or tearing eyes is medically referred to as epiphora. It usually occurs due to the excessive production of tears or blockage of the tear duct. Read on to understand other factors that may contribute to watering of the eyes.
Epiphora is an overflow of tears, which are saline watery secretions from the lacrimal glands. The lacrimal gland is located under the upper eyelid, towards the outer corner of each eye. Tears from these glands flow into the eyes through ducts. As we blink, these spread on the eye surface. Tears lubricate the eyes and also protect the surface of the eyes.
When any foreign particles or irritant falls in our eyes, the tear film present in our eyes helps in washing off those irritants. Tears keep our eyes well-lubricated, thereby lowering the risks of an eye infection. At the inner corner of the upper as well as the lower eyelids lies a small opening called punctum.
The tears drain from the upper and lower punctum through lacrimal canaliculi into the tear sac. Thereafter, the tears flow from the nasolacrimal duct into the nose.

Symptoms That May Accompany Watery Eyes

  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in the corner of the eye
  • Irritated eyelids
  • Matting of the eyelashes
  • Discharge from the puncta


This eye problem can affect people of all age groups, but generally, middle-aged and older people are at an increased risk.

Dry Eye Syndrome

One of the most common causes of tearing eyes is the dry eye syndrome. The quality and the quantity of tear production is adversely affected due to dry eyes. Normally, the tears consists of a lipid layer, watery layer and mucus layer.
If the composition of tears is adversely affected, these may not be able to lubricate the corneal surface of the eye. This would lead to dry eyes. Dryness, gritty sensation, redness and watery eyes are the common symptoms of dry eyes.

Clogged Tear Duct

Watery eyes could be due to a clogged tear duct just below the tear sac. A blocked puncta or blockage within the lacrimal canals or nasolacrimal duct could also cause watery eyes. When the tears might not be drained out through the nasal passage, the excess tears that are not drained would run down from the lower eyelids to the cheeks.

Other Eye Problems

Blepharitis, which is a condition that is characterized by inflamed eyelash follicles, could also cause watery eyes. It is caused by a bacterial infection. Seborrheic dermatitis or eyelid allergies can also be responsible for causing blepharitis which in turn manifests itself in the form of swelling on the eyelids and watery eyes.
Sometimes, lower eyelid might droop or sag, which can cause tears to roll down the cheeks instead of being transported into the drainage system. Eye irritation due to irritants like dust, smoke, abrasions or ingrown eyelash can also cause watering of eyes. Those suffering from inflammation of the conjunctiva can also experience excessive watering of eyes.


Since epiphora could be caused due to a variety of reasons, one must get a thorough medical checkup done to ascertain the underlying eye problem.
► If watering of eyes is caused due to exposure to environmental irritants like smoke, dust or chemicals, it can be easily treated with artificial eye drops. One must wear sunglasses before stepping outdoors on a sunny or a windy day.

► In case of allergies, antihistamines might help. Sometimes, dry eye syndrome could be responsible for causing epiphora. 
► Schirmer's test is very useful for determining both quality and quantity of tears. As far as treatment for dry eyes is concerned, use of lubricants, punctal plugs or bandage contact lenses might help. Those suffering from dry eyes will also need to protect their eyes in dry weather conditions. Exposure to the sun and wind can aggravate the condition. 
► Infections such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis can be treated by antibiotics. Warm compresses might also help in providing relief. 

► In case of a partially blocked lacrimal canal, a probe may be pushed in to widen the canal. Sometimes, a minor surgery might be required to open the blockage so as to facilitate proper drainage of tears. 
► Dacryocystorhinostomy is a procedure that is used if the obstruction of nasolacrimal duct is causing watering of the eyes. This involves the creation of a new channel from the tear sac towards the nasal cavity. Thus, tears can bypass the blockage and flow down into the nose. 
► At times, a stent may be inserted to hold the walls of the tear duct. Sometimes, a small balloon may be inflated inside the tear duct to open the blockage.

► Surgery may also be required to correct eyelid abnormalities such as ectropion (outwardly turned eyelid) or entropion (inwardly turned eyelid).
If you are suffering from this eye condition, you must visit an ophthalmologist to determine the underlying cause. Do pay attention to the aspect of eye care and follow the advice given by your doctor to prevent any complications in future.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of an ophthalmologist.