Tears serve several key roles in your body. They keep your
eyes lubricated and help to wash away foreign particles and dust. And tears are
also a component of your immune system and protect you against infection.
Glands under the skin of your upper eyelids produce tears,
which contain water and salt. When you blink, tears spread and keep your eyes
moist. Other glands produce oils that keep tears from evaporating too fast or
from spilling out of your eyes.
Tears are normally discharged through your tear ducts and
then evaporate. When you produce too many tears, they overwhelm your tear ducts,
and you develop watery eyes.
If your tears do not contain the right balance of water,
salt, and oils, your eyes can become too dry. The resulting irritation causes
an overproduction of tears that spill out through your tear ducts.
Because your eyes are not receiving proper lubrication, you
continue to produce an abundance of tears, which continues the cycle.
Blocked tear ducts, dust, wind, allergies, infection, and
injury can also cause watery eyes.
Most of the time, watery eyes resolve without treatment, but
the condition can sometimes become a chronic problem.
Consult your doctor if you have a prolonged case of watery
eyes, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms.
Causes of watery eyes
It is common to temporarily produce excess tears when you
are emotional, laughing, coughing, vomiting, experiencing strong taste
sensations, or yawning. Among other common causes are:
conditions such as wind, cold, and sunshine
factors such as bright light and smog
cold, sinus problems, and allergies
of the eyelid (blepharitis)
turned outward (ectropion) or inward (entropion)
eye (conjunctivitis) or other infections
objects, chemicals, or irritating gases and liquids in the eye
or scrape on the eye
treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation
One of the most prevalent reasons for watery eyes is dry eye
syndrome. Extremely dry eyes can cause you to produce excess tears. If your
tears do not contain enough of the right oils to lubricate your eyes, your eyes
will continue to produce tears.
Typically, watery eyes are temporary and resolve on their
own when the cause is addressed or your eyes have healed. However, in some
cases, the condition may persist.
When should you call a
The reason for your dry eyes will determine the best
treatment. You should contact a physician or eye doctor if you have excessive
or prolonged tearing and any of the following symptoms:
loss or visual disturbances
or scratched eye
in your eye
or bleeding from your eye
object stuck in your eye on the inside of your eyelid
irritated, swollen, or painful eyes
bruising around your eye
around your nose or sinuses
issues accompanied by a severe headache
eyes that fail to improve on their own
How are dry
In most cases, watery eyes will clear up without treatment.
If not, your physician or eye doctor will perform an eye exam or a physical.
Be prepared to answer questions about recent eye injuries
and health conditions. Tell your doctor about any prescription or
over-the-counter medications or supplements you take.
Your doctor may also perform a test that determines if fluid
can pass through the tear ducts.
Remedies for watery eyes include:
allergies that make your eyes watery
if you have an eye infection
warm, wet towel placed on your eyes several times a day, which can help with
blocked tear ducts
surgical procedure to clear blocked tear ducts
to repair or create a new tear drainage system (dacryocystorhinostomy)
Most cases of watery eyes aren’t serious, and will resolve
without treatment. You should always call your eye doctor right away if you
experience any changes in your vision. Vision changes can be a symptom of very
serious eye problems that require prompt treatment.