Watery Eyes

Watering of the eyes is a very common problem, especially with increasing age. While usually not a serious threat to your eyes it can be a real nuisance and a social embarrassment.

An abnormal overflowing of tears from the eyes is called epiphora. In this condition tears often sit on the lashes, or overflow down the cheek. Acute episodes are usually caused by an irritant to the eye

Blocked tearducts are a common cause of watering, and the obstruction can usually be overcome in most people. This will involve some form of procedure, ranging from a simple syringing of the tearduct in the specialist’s office, to minor eyelid surgery, to a full-blown tearduct bypass (‘DCR’ operation) in an operating theatre.

Causes include:

  • Under-developed tear drainage system – this is usually in children, and 9 out of 10 of these children will outgrow the condition before their first birthday. It is, however, important to get this checked by an ophthalmologist to ensure this is the cause of the watering eyes
  • Scars from old injuries or infections blocking the tear drainage system
  • Eyelid deformities, such as ectropion, or out-turning of the lower eyelid, preventing the effective drainage of tears
  • Blocked punctum due to age, trauma or infection

Over-production of tears

Causes include:

  • Poor quality tears resulting in inadequate wetting of the ocular surface
  • Foreign body or matter in the eye
  • Allergic reaction to pollens etc
  • Cold wind in the face
  • Tiredness and lack of sleep
  • Eyestrain from persistent close work
  • Build up of debris along the eyelashes resulting in inflammation or infection

The specialist will advise on treatment options depending on the underlying cause.