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When there is an imbalance between the amount of tears produced and the amount of tears drained in the eye, watery eyes (epiphora) occur. Tears build up on the surface of the eye and may start to run down the side of the face if more tears are produced than can be drained.

What are the symptoms of watery eyes?

Watery eyes can significantly reduce quality of life for patients. Symptoms may include:

  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Needing to wipe excess tears from the eyes and cheeks

What are the causes of watery eyes?

Watery eyes can be caused by one of three mechanisms

1. Increase in the production of tears due to eye irritation from

  • Corneal irritation
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dry eyes
  • Foreign bodies in the eye
  • Eye infection or inflammation

2. Blockage in the tear drainage system caused by:

  • Infection and trauma
  • Congenital blockages
  • Age-related blockages
  • Hay fever and sinusitis
  • Lacrimal stones

3. Dysfunction of the tear pump system due to:

  • Stroke
  • Facial weakness
  • Drooping of the eyelids

How do you diagnose and treat watery eyes?

Watery eyes are generally self-diagnosed; however, a detailed exam will confirm the diagnosis and help identify the likely cause. Treatment may include medications or surgery aimed at addressing the cause of the watering.


“Vision is the true creative rhythm”

- Robert Delaunay