Watery Eyes (Epiphora): Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Fri Feb 05 2021
Watery Eyes(Epiphora): Causes,treatments and remedies

Watery eyes, clinically known as epiphora, can be a bothersome and persistent issue for many individuals. This condition occurs when there is an overflow of tears, leading to excessive tearing. In this comprehensive blog, we will delve into the watery eye causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and effective treatments, along with valuable tips to prevent this common eye problem.

What Are Watery Eyes?

Watery eyes, or epiphora, is a condition characterized by the excessive production of tears, leading to a constant flow down the face. Tears are vital for maintaining eye health, providing lubrication, and helping prevent infections. However, an imbalance in tear production, drainage, or distribution can result in continuous tearing.

This phenomenon can be caused by various factors, such as blocked tear ducts, allergies, cornea problems, inflammation of eyelids, and miscellaneous eye problems. Understanding the symptoms and root causes is essential for effective management and treatment.

Symptoms of Watery Eyes

Watery eyes or epiphora possess a range of symptoms that go beyond the obvious tearing. Understanding these symptoms is crucial for recognizing the severity and seeking appropriate medical attention.

Constant Tearing:

One of the prominent symptoms of watery eyes is persistent and excessive flow of tears. This continuous tearing can lead to discomfort and blurred vision.

Redness and Irritation:

Excessive tearing often causes redness and irritation in the delicate tissues of the eyes, resulting in discomfort or a gritty sensation.

Swollen Eyelids:

The inflammation may cause the eyelids to appear puffy and contribute to a sense of heaviness around the eyes.


Individuals may find it challenging to tolerate bright lights, sunlight, or even normal room lighting, further impacting their daily activities.

Blurred Vision:

Continuous tearing can cause blurred vision, affecting the clarity of sight. This symptom can be particularly concerning for individuals trying to perform tasks that require visual precision.

Impact on Daily Activities:

Individuals may find it challenging to read, work on a computer, or engage in outdoor activities due to the constant tearing and associated symptoms.

Recognizing these symptoms is the first step towards addressing watery eyes and then seeking the advice from an eye care specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

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What Causes Watery Eyes?

Watery eyes can arise from a multitude of factors, each contributing to the disruption. Understanding watery eyes causes is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Let’s explore each of them:

Blocked Tear Ducts –

Tear ducts, responsible for draining tears away from the eyes, can become blocked. Congenital abnormalities, infections, injuries, or age-related changes may obstruct the tear ducts, hindering the normal drainage. 

Sinus and Eye Allergies –

Allergic reactions can lead to excessive tear production. Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust, or certain foods can result in watery eyes.

Cornea Problems –

The cornea plays a crucial role in the tear film’s stability; any issues can disrupt normal tear distribution. Conditions like dry eye syndrome, corneal abrasions, infections, or degenerative diseases impact the cornea.

Inflammation of Eyelids –

Inflammation along the eyelid margins can interfere with the proper drainage of tears. Chronic conditions such as blepharitis or styes can contribute to persistent tearing.

Miscellaneous Eye Problems –

Various eye-related conditions, like conjunctivitis, uveitis, or eyelid malposition can disrupt the normal functioning of tear production and drainage.

Understanding these causes is the first step in determining the most appropriate course of action. An eye care professional can accurately diagnose the specific cause and tailor the treatment plan accordingly.

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Diagnosis of Watery Eyes

Diagnosing the root cause of epiphora involves a thorough examination by an ophthalmologist to identify the contributing factors. Here’s an overview of the diagnostic process:

1. Patient History:

A comprehensive discussion of medical history and symptoms provides essential context.

2. External Eye Examination:

Visual inspection helps identify signs of inflammation, infection, or abnormalities in the eyelids and surrounding tissues.

3. Tear Film Evaluation:

Tests like the Schirmer test assess tear quantity and quality to find out tear production rate.

4. Dye Test:

A dye is used to highlight corneal or tear film irregularities contributing to watery eyes.

5. Imaging Studies:

Advanced techniques are utilized to visualize the tear drainage system and detect blockages or abnormalities.

6. Allergy Testing:

For allergy-related cases, a few tests may be recommended to identify specific triggers later aiding in tailored treatment.

7. Specialized Tests:

Additional tests, such as MRI or CT scans can be done for structural issues based on the suspected cause.

Diagnosing watery eyes involves a comprehensive approach, combining patient history, clinical examinations, and specialized tests. Seeking timely and expert guidance is key to effectively managing this common ocular concern.

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Watery Eyes Treatment

Once the underlying cause of watery eyes has been identified through a thorough diagnosis, various effective watery eyes treatment approaches can be used to improve overall eye health.

1. Blocked Tear Ducts:

  • Use warm compresses, massage, and antibiotics for mild cases.
  • Procedures like dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) for persistent blockages.

2. Sinus and Eye Allergies:

  • Identify and minimize exposure to allergens.
  • Intake Antihistamines, decongestants, or prescription eye drops for effective allergy management.

3. Cornea Problems:

  • Lubricating eye drops alleviate dry eye symptoms.
  • Address specific corneal problems with antibiotics or surgery.

4. Inflammation of Eyelids:

  • Warm compresses and lid scrubs manage inflammation.
  • Steroid or antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed.

5. Miscellaneous Eye Problems:

  • Medications or surgical interventions for specific conditions like conjunctivitis or uveitis.

Tips to Prevent Watery Eyes 

While effective treatment addresses the root cause of watery eyes, implementing preventive measures is crucial for minimizing recurrence and maintaining optimal eye health. Consider the following tips to prevent watery eyes:

1. Eye Hygiene:

Regularly clean your eyelids to prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of conditions like blepharitis, which can contribute to watery eyes.

2. Allergen Management:

Identify and minimize exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed during high pollen seasons. Use air purifiers to reduce indoor allergens.

3. Protective Eyewear:

Wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from wind, dust, and harmful UV rays. 

4. Regular Eye Check-ups:

Schedule routine eye examinations with an ophthalmologist for the early detection of any developing issues and prompt intervention.

5. Avoid Irritants:

Smoke and other irritants can trigger excessive tearing. If you smoke, consider quitting to improve both eye and overall health.

6. Adjust Screen Time:

Take breaks during prolonged screen use to reduce eye strain. Follow the 20-20-20 rule, i.e., every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Remember, if you notice persistent symptoms, seek professional advice for prevention and management.


In conclusion, effective management of watery eyes demands a comprehensive approach, encompassing understanding, diagnosis, and tailored treatment. By integrating the above discussed insights, individuals can prevent or cure watery eyes, ensuring comfort, clear vision, and sustained eye health. 

FAQs on Watery Eyes

  1. Can medications cause watery eyes?

Answer: Yes, certain medications, especially those with ocular side effects, can contribute to watery eyes.

  1. What are the main causes of Watery Eyes?

Answer: Blocked tear ducts, allergies, cornea problems, eyelid inflammation, and various eye conditions can lead to watery eyes.

  1. How to naturally treat watery eyes?

Answer: Natural treatments include warm compresses, staying hydrated, and managing allergies or underlying health issues.

  1. Are there home remedies for watery eyes?

Answer: Yes, watery eyes home remedies include warm compresses, maintaining eye hygiene, and using artificial tears for mild cases.

  1. Can allergies cause watery eyes? If yes then what are those?

Answer: Yes, allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander can trigger excessive tear production, leading to watery eyes.

  1. Can stress or fatigue cause watery eyes?

Answer: Yes, stress and fatigue can contribute to watery eyes by disrupting the normal tear production and drainage balance.

 Article: What Causes Watery Eyes and How to Treat Them
Author: CFS Editorial Team   |   Feb 05 2021 | UPDATED 02:20 IST

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