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Watery Eyes

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“Watery eyes” is a condition wherein tears overflow from your eyes onto your face due to a problem in your tear ducts. Due to too many tears in the eye, the individual looks as if he/she is crying. The medical terminology for watery eyes is Epiphora.This condition leads to persistent as well as excessive production of tears within the eyes. It is usually due to inadequate drainage of normal tears in the tear ducts.

What causes watery eyes?

The medical explanation given for watery eyes is- the tears drain insufficiently into the nasolacrimal system as a result of which they stream out from your eyes. There are several reasons behind watery eyes, which are:

  • Blockage in tear ducts and underdeveloped tear ducts.
  • Inflammation and swelling in the tear ducts
  • Over production of tears due conjunctivitis, eye allergies, Chlamydia infections, inflammation of eyelid and cornea, eye injury, chemical irritants
  • Conditions like entropion the eyelid turns in at the edges towards the eye) and ectropion (the lower eyelid turns outwards) eyes
  • Bell’s palsy – facial paralysis, in which your blink is weakened, leading to watery eyes.
  • Dry eye syndrome can also cause watery eyes
  • From common cold, dry and windy weather
  • From eye strain, lens infections or fluctuation in corrective lens power

Watery eyes are mostly found in babies and older age group people, i.e. above 60. Babies who are born with underdeveloped tear ducts would experience the overflow of tears and are vulnerable to eye infections.

Symptoms associated with watery eyes

Your eyes are most likely to water while laughing and yawning. If you have a problem with tear duct then jerky impulses like vomiting can trigger the overflow of tears.

Swelling, redness, itching, irritation, and eye strain are commonly associated with infections. Along with tears, a sticky fluid might also come out of your eyes, which further aggravate the problems.

Diagnosis for watery eyes

Your doctor will look for symptoms of trauma, infections, presence of foreign objects or any other underlying complication. These problems can be figured out with a physical examination.

If a blockage in tear duct is suspected, then you would be referred to an ophthalmologist.

In that circumstance, you will be given a local anesthetic before diagnosing your eyes. A probe will be inserted through the corner of your eyelids into the tear drainage system to look for blockages. A fluid may be injected inside to check if it’s leaking from your eyes. Your doctor might also use a dye to detect abnormalities in tear ducts and then perform an X ray. For most babies, the problem usually resolves on its own.

Treatment for watery eyes

The treatment is completely dependent on the underlying problem. In many cases, treatment is not required, if the symptoms exhibited are mild. Artificial tears are of huge help when it comes to managing dry eyes, eye strain, irritations, dust allergies, etc. Your doctor would prescribe antibiotics or antihistamine eye drops to manage infections and allergies and would consider removing the foreign object from your eyes if that is causing the problem.

If the problem is associated with your tear drainage system, then your doctor might perform a surgery, known as dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR). It involves either widening the narrowed tear duct with a tiny probe or creating a new tear duct for proper drainage. It’s important to note that surgery is not opted for unless you are willing to undergo and the overflow of too much tears is bothering your day-to-day activities.

Self-care for watery eyes

Always keep soft tissues in handy to soak the tears gently from your eyes. Splash cold water in your eyes several times while working before a computer or sensing some foreign objects inside your eyes. Last but not least, do not rub your eyes if they are irritated and make sure they are clean.

It is always better to get your eyes examined, if the condition persists. The doctor will advise you regarding any treatment required or self-care that will help you overcome your watery eyes situation.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 12, 2015