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Causes of Teary Eyes

Watery eyes or epiphora is a condition whereby tears overflow into your face, often without a clear explanation. It occurs due to overproduction of tears or insufficient tear film drainage from the eyes. Although tears keep the eyes’ front surface healthy and maintain clear vision, too many tears affect vision getting in the way of activities such as driving. If you have persistent water eyes, your Jenkintown ophthalmologist & eye surgeon can prescribe medications to treat the problem. Below are the common causes of teary eyes.

Blocked tear ducts

The eyes have a plumbing system that makes tears and drains them into your nose through tiny openings. In infants, tear ducts may not be fully open and functioning for the first several months of life, causing persistent watery eyes, often with some matter. Constant watery eyes in older adults occur when the aging skin of the eyelids sags away from the eyeballs, causing tears to build up and flow out. Blocked tear ducts can also cause an eye infection, resulting in signs such as crusty eyelashes, mucus, blurred vision, and blood in your tears. Your doctor can open up the blockages by flushing saline into the duct and inserting small balloons or tubes into the narrow or blocked ducts.  


Eye allergies are common, but most people ignore how they can affect their eyes. Your eyes can react to irritants such as pet dander, pollen, mites, and fumes, causing them to become itch, red, and watery. Over-the-counter medications such as eye drops and antihistamines may be enough to offer relief, but if they don’t help, visit your doctor for allergy shots or prescription medications. Avoiding allergens can help you prevent watery eyes; for example, if you are allergic to dust, ensure all your rooms and surfaces are dust-free.

Problems with your cornea

Cornea problems can range from mild scratches to ulcers; inflammation of the cornea or keratitis can also cause your eyes to become watery. A scratch to the cornea makes your eye painful, teary, and sensitive to light; when you try closing your eyes, you may feel like there is something inside. You can treat a mild cornea scratch at home by rinsing your eye with saline solution. Blinking several times or pulling the upper eyelid over the lower one may also help. These steps may help remove the object causing your problems but ensure that you see a doctor to avoid getting an infection.

Dry eyes

When your eyes are dry, your body responds by making too many tears; you may also have other symptoms such as burning, redness, stinging, and vision problems. Mild cases of dry eyes get better with artificial tears, but sometimes prescription drugs reduce inflammation and help create tears. Your doctor may recommend inserts eye therapy, light massage, or inserts that act like artificial tear glands.

Bumps on the eyelid

Eyelid bumps may signify a stye or a chalazion; styes are painful and bigger, while chalazions hardly cause pain. You can treat a stye at home by holding a warm towel to your eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes. If it persists, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or a steroid shot to ease the pain.

If you have watery eyes, visit your specialist at Suburban Eye Associates for treatment to avoid getting an infection.