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Watery eyes- The causes, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- May 21, 2015
  • 7970 Views

When you produce too many tears, or when normal tear drainage is blocked, your eyes may get a little watery. The influx of tears can spill onto your eyelids and cheeks, leaving you with a feeling of crying. Depending on the cause, there are different things you can do to fix it.

Tears are necessary for nourishment and lubrication of the human eye. Every time you blink, you're washing your eyes with tears produced by the lacrimal glands in your upper eyelids. These glands make extra tears due to irritation and inflammation. Tears usually drain out of the eye and into the nose through ducts located in the corners of your eyes.

People who suffer from watery eyes normally experience an overproduction of tears, which are made up of water, oil, and mucous. These may be caused by:

  • Dry eye syndrome: Dry-eye syndrome often leads to watery eyes. When eyes dry out, they become irritated and uncomfortable. That stimulates the lacrimal glands to make excessive tears which overwhelm the eye’s natural drainage system. Tear production tends to lessen with age, so dry eyes are more common in older adults. In addition to excessive tearing, symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include blurred vision, itchy eyes, or burning eyes. One remedy for milder cases of dry eye is using over-the-counter artificial tears.
  • Allergens: Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Allergic reaction can cause your eyes to become red and irritated, prompting tear production, itching, and burning. The most common cause of allergic reaction are grass, tree, weed pollens, dust mites, and moulds. Other causes of itchy, watery eyes that are not true allergens include exhaust fumes, aerosol sprays, perfumes, and cigarette smoke. 
  • Infections: Part of your body’s response to an eye infection can be to produce excess tears. This is an effort to keep the eye lubricated and wash away germs and discharge. Conjunctivitis and blepharitis are two infectious diseases known to cause watery eyes. Signs of eye infection may include eye pain, blurred vision, redness, gritty feeling in the eyes, discharge, and crusts that form at night, along with increased tearing. 
  • Irritants: Your eyes produce excess tears in response to other types of irritation, such as dry air, bright light, wind, smoke, dust, an eyelash, or exposure to chemicals. Eyestrain also can cause watery eyes.

Diagnosis and treatment of watery eyes
You may be able to know the cause of your watery eyes on your own:
  • If your eyes feel dry, raw, and uncomfortable just before they begin to water, you are probably experiencing dry eye syndrome
  • If your eyes are itchy and swollen, allergies are the likely culprit. In these cases, over-the-counter remedies are available.
  • If dry eyes are causing excess tearing, you can treat those using artificial tears to keep your eyes moist. Artificial tears can also help wash away any irritants like dust that may be causing your eyes to water.  
  • Over-the-counter medicated eye drops help treat allergies that are causing watery eyes by interrupting the body’s immune response.

When to see an ophthalmologist?
You must visit an eye specialist or ophthalmologist if you are experiencing:
  • Unexplained tearing over a long period 
  • Watery eyes that are also red and producing discharge 
  • Watery eyes and eye pain 
  • Watery eyes and sore sinuses
In the end, if your watery eyes don’t clear up with over-the-counter treatment, you should get medical attention from a qualified ophthalmologist.