Watery Eyes

What is lacrimation?

Lacrimation is a condition in which tears pour out of your eyes even though you do not cry. Excessive lacrimation is also called epiphora.

The main causes of excessive lacrimationare:

  • production of too many tears
  • clogging in the tear drainage system
  • the eyelid is not in the right place (for example, your eyelid hangs or is facing outwards);
  • reflex tears (such as crying or having something in your eye)
  • lubricating tears, which overlap the eyes with lacrimal film all the time.
  • eye irritation, which can be caused by:
    • a foreign object in your eye (such as sawdust)
    • something in the air (such as smoke or smog)
    • something you’re allergic to (like pet hair)
    • an infection along the edges of your eyelids
  • dry eye syndrome, when you do not produce enough lubricating tears;
  • you were born with it
  • you have scars in the drainage system of tears caused by:
    • injury to your eyes or nose
    • long-term infections of the sinuses
  • the tiny openings (the end point) of the tubes connecting your eyes and nose have been blocked due to aging, trauma or infection
  • some drugs cause obstruction (such as those used for chemotherapy)
  • a problem with your eyelids prevents your tears from draining normally.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes, checking for irritation, injury and infection. Your doctor will check your eyelids to see if they are blocking the tear drainage system. Your doctor may use special drops to show any problems with the surface of your eyes. Your ophthalmologist can use a probe to open the lacrimal puncta to see if this solves the problem. You may need to check your sinuses to see if any obstruction is causing the problem. Blocked sinuses can lead to excessive lacrimation.

Treatment depends on the cause of lacrimation. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.

  • If your lacrimation is caused by irritants such as allergens or pollutants in the air, use an air cleaner to remove them from the air at work or at home.
  • Use warm compresses and local antibiotics to treat eye infections.
  • Take oral antibiotics to treat infections of the sinuses.
  • Use artificial tears in the form of eye drops or ointments to help relieve dry eyesyndrome.
  • Have surgery to remove an obstruction in the tear drainage system. The type of operation depends on the location and extent of the blockage. Some operations can be performed in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia. Tubes can be placed in the drainage system of your tears. Tiny tubes can be inserted into the lacrimal spot to keep it open.
  • Have surgery to correct the location of the eyelids blocking the tear drainage system.
  • Always wear safety glasses or goggles at work or leisure where your eyes may be injured.
  • Follow your ophthalmologist’s instructions on the use of medicines to treat this problem.
  • Do regular eye examinations at least every 2 years.
  • Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

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