Why Do My Eyes Water?

by Sep 29, 2020

Our eyes are constantly producing tears to lubricate, protect, and keep them healthy. Sometimes, however, they can produce far too much water, resulting in blurry vision, tears running down our cheeks, etc. There are several causes and solutions for this, and these will be explained below.


How Our Tears Work

Our eyes need a healthy tear layer to wash out toxins, provide lubrication and nutrient nourishment, protect against pathogens, and provide oxygen to the eyes. Tears are composed of 3 ingredients that are produced in separate places in the eyes. The main ingredient, water, is produced by the lacrimal gland in the upper and outer part of each eye and its accessory parts within the eyelids.

The oil part of the tears, which prevents evaporation, is produced also by glands in the eyelids. Finally, the mucous part of the tears which provides wettability and immune protection is also produced by glands in the deepest part of the eyelids.

Tears are produced by all of the above structures and remain on the eyes in constant balance with drainage. There are 2 small holes on the eyelids closer to the nose, one on the upper and one on the lower, through which the tears drain.

Every time you blink, tears are vacuumed into these holes, from which they run into several smaller chambers and eventually into the nose and throat. This is why people can often taste eye drops after they instill them.

When Our Eyes Water Too Much

Your eyes may be watering because you are producing too many tears, often because of irritation to the eyes. Whenever there is some insult to the eyes, they produce tears as a reflex to protect themselves and wash offending agents away. Excluding emotional causes, this can be due to dry eyes, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), viral infection, or some foreign body in the eye (i.e metal, eyelash, lint).

Treating the underlying condition will help the irritation and watering go away. For this list of possible conditions, this can include ocular lubricants, supplements, hot or cold compresses, lid scrubs, medications, and/ or in office procedures.


Poor Tear Drainage

If there is no irritation in the eyes associated with watering, then the issue is likely in the drainage system. Many conditions can result in this, including obstruction of the drainage pathway, malposition of the holes that lead to it, or failure of fluid to enter the drainage system.

Aging can lead to all of these, causing more laxity and less elasticity of the tissue surrounding the drainage system, weakness of the muscles that suck tears into drainage, and gradual narrowing of the pathway itself. Our eye doctor might inject saline into the pathway to clear out any blockage or, if necessary, surgery can be carried out to fix some of these issues and restore normal drainage function.

Some causes can also again be inflammatory, like infection or inflammation of the drainage pathway, for which the treatment is antibiotic or anti inflammatory medication. Cancerous lesions can sometimes cause malformations in this system, meaning that any suspicious lumps or bumps, similar to anywhere else on your body, should be checked by a doctor.

Infants sometimes have problems with tear drainage due to the pathway not being totally opened yet after birth. Often, the first step in managing this is to clean the eyes regularly and massage the pathway from the eyes to the nose to hopefully make the pathway open. If these do not resolve by the one year of age mark, probing can be carried out to open it up, which is a quick in-office procedure.

Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about why your eyes water. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Joseph Goldberg, Karen Darrell and Patricia Jones provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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