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Excessive tearing is commonly referred to as watery eyes. It is common for people to experience watery eyes at various time throughout their lives. When it becomes chronic and starts to interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of a problem. The tear ducts carry tears away from the eyes, and if the tear ducts have not developed properly or are not functioning right, it can prevent them from doing their job and can cause the eyes to become watery. There are treatments and medications that can help with this disorder.

What is Excessive Tearing?

Excessive Tearing Causes

There are many different things that can cause excessive tearing. Some of these things are common and harmless, and others are more serious. The causes may make the eyes water for a brief period, or they may be chronically watery. Some of the common causes of watery eyes include:

Excessive Tearing Causes

Excessive Tearing Symptoms

In most cases, watery eyes are the symptoms of a problem. Some people may experience other symptoms alongside water eyes or because of them. These symptoms can be severe or mild, and they can also help doctors figure out the cause of the excessive tearing. Some of the common symptoms that go with watery eyes include:

  • Eye redness
  • Recurrent eye infection
  • Painful swelling near the inside corner of the eye
  • Crusting around the eyes
  • Mucus discharge from the eye
  • Blurred vision

Excessive Tearing Diagnosis

Diagnosing the cause of excessive tearing is more important and often more challenging than just treating the symptom. A proper diagnosis is necessary for doctors to find the right treatment. Doctors use a variety of different tests to help confirm their diagnosis. Some of these tests include:

  • Tear drainage test: This test checks to see the rate that tears are draining from the eye.
  • Irrigation: Doctors flush saline solution through the tear duct to see how well the eyes are draining.
  • Probing: Doctors will probe the tear ducts to see if there are any blockages.
  • Eye imaging: Doctors use eye imaging scans to look for problems in the eye and in the tear ducts that may be causing the problem.

Excessive Tearing Treatment

Treatments are often focused on relieving not only the symptoms of excessive tearing but also the cause of the problem. Treatments are based on the severity of the condition as well as the patient’s preference. Some common treatments for excessive tearing include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Monitoring
  • Flushing
  • Balloon catheter dilation
  • Intubation
  • Eye drops
  • Surgery
  • Topical medications

Excessive Tearing Treatment

Excessive Tearing Prognosis

Excessive eye tearing is not a serious disease, but it can be an inconvenience for anyone who suffers from it. In most cases, the problem clears up on its own, but for others, it may require treatment. Some people who suffer chronic watery eyes must continue treatment for months, and others need surgery to open the tear ducts so the eyes can drain properly. After the proper treatment, the prognosis is good, and the excessive tearing usually stops after a few months.


American Academy of Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology, Excessive Tearing


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