Watery eyes—also known as epiphora—is a common condition, though it is commonly misunderstood. Basically, epiphora means an overflow of tears, often without a particular reason. While tears normally drain through the nasolacrimal system, if there is insufficient tear film drainage from the eyes, the tears overflow onto the face.
Epiphora can occur at any age but is commonly seen in babies, children under the age of two, or adults over the age of 60.
The good news is, watery eyes can effectively be treated as long as you speak to your doctor about your condition.
Causes of watery eyes
Many factors and conditions can contribute to watery eyes. For children, watery eyes are often the result of a tear duct blockage. In this situation, instead of draining away, the tears build up in the tear sac and overflow. For older adults, aging is the main cause of watery eyes, as the skin of the eyelids sags away from the eyeballs.
Watery eyes may also be induced by certain medications, such as chemotherapy, epinephrine, and eye drops.
Common causes for watery eyes include allergies, eyelid inflammation, blocked tear ducts, common colds, corneal abrasion, corneal ulcer, dry eyes, outwardly and inwardly turned eyelids, foreign object in the eye, hay fever, ingrown eyelash, keratitis, pink eye, stye, tear duct infection, trachoma, Bell’s palsy, eye injury, burns, chemicals in the eye, chronic sinusitis, facial nerve palsy, inflammatory disease, radiation therapy, sarcoidosis, Sjögren’s syndrome, surgery of the eyes or nose, thyroid disorders, tumors affecting tear drainage, and Wegener’s granulomatosis.
As you can see, epiphora causes can range in severity. This is why it is so important to have your watery eye symptoms checked to help uncover the underlying cause and receive proper treatment.
When to see a doctor for watery eyes
You should seek immediate attention for your watery eyes if your vision becomes impaired or changes, if you experience pain around the eyes, or if you sense a foreign object in the eye.
Generally, watery eyes may clear up on their own, but if the condition is persistent, you should see your doctor for additional testing.
If you are experiencing excessive tearing and watery eyes despite all efforts, it may be time to get an experts opinion. Your doctor will tell you what they think are the most likely causes for your own unique case and give you the best treatment possible. If you are displaying any of the following symptoms or occurrences, it may be time to see your family physician:
- Vision loss or visual disturbance
- Chemical exposure in your eye
- Foreign object stuck in your eye, or inside the eyelid
- Bruising around the eye you cannot explain
- Eye issues with headaches
- Injured or scratched eye
- Having discharge or bleeding from your eye
- Red, irritated, swollen, or painful eyes
- Tenderness around the nose or sinuses
- Watery eyes that don’t improve on their own
How to diagnose epiphora
Epiphora (watery eyes) is a generally easy condition to spot, but the reasons for its occurrence may be hard to deduce. Various causes like lesions, infection, entropion (inward turning eyelid), or ectropion (outward turning eyelid) will all be explored by your doctor. If your doctor is still unsure about the exact cause for your watering eyes, they will refer you to an eye specialist. Here you will do more in-depth testing, getting a closer look at the eye and the surrounding structures. An eye specialist, or ophthalmologist, will most likely use advanced and highly sensitive medical equipment to get to the bottom of your excessive tearing.
How to stop watery eyes
Having excessive watery eyes can be annoying and impede your ability to see properly. They may be due to infections or simply due to an allergic reaction. Having watery eyes is generally not an emergency situation, and there exist many things you can do yourself to speed along the process of making this irritating symptom go away. Common remedies include washing your eyes, using eye drops, or even using a warm compress. If none of this works, it is time to see your doctor, but make sure you avoid driving as your vision may be impaired.
It is always a good measure to prevent symptoms from happening in the first place, and in the case of having excessive watering of the eyes, wearing goggles will help prevent foreign objects from entering the eye. This is an especially good idea if you spend a lot of time around tiny particles that may enter the eye, such as the sawdust from woodworking. Wearing sunglasses to shield your eyes from UV rays may also be beneficial—it will act as a barrier to foreign objects and can be worn outside the workplace.
Home remedies to treat epiphora
The main causes of watery eyes may be poor tear drainage or excess production of tears, and can be due to allergies or other infection agents. But regardless of the cause, there are things you can do now in the form of home remedies for dealing with watery eyes. The following are some of the best-known remedies to help relieve your excessive tearing.
Cucumber: Using cucumber slices over each eye may help get rid of excessive tearing. Their cool sensation and skin tightening properties will perform best when kept on for at least five minutes.
Tea bags: One of the best home remedies and is an item that everybody has in their homes. Get two used tea bags and let them cool in the refrigerator. Once they are at cold temperature, place them on your eyes for nearly instant relief.
Cold milk: Using milk and a finely knit cloth, lightly soak it and place on the eyes.
Coriander seeds: Not just great for cooking, but they’re great for eye troubles. To use these seeds, first grind about two tablespoons and add them to 250ml of water. Next, boil this mixture for a couple of minutes, then let it cool to room temperature. Lastly, rinse your eyes.
Rose water: Considered an excellent home remedy, rose water is great for watery eyes. This requires you mix some rose water with drops of diluted honey, then with the use of cotton pads, apply the mixture to the eyes for instant results
Carrots: We’ve all heard carrots are good for your eyes, and it’s absolutely true. They contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which promote vision. Drinking carrot juice about two times a week, or eating them raw, is a great way to incorporate this vegetable into your diet.
Warm salt water: Another easy home remedy, as everyone has salt in their homes. Heat up some water and mix about a tablespoon of salt into it—you can use a cloth or cotton ball to apply the mixture to the eye area. Salt water is great at reducing the histamine response that occurs during allergies.
Instant treatment: Remedies that work right away may include ice cubes over the eye, applying aloe vera on the eyelids, or applying coriander leaves or fresh podina leaves to the scalp