Tearing is a normal yet important function of the eye. Your eyes are likely to become watery when normal tear drainage is blocked or you produce too many tears. The influx of tears often make it look as if the person is crying. The problem can hit you at any age, but it is more common in babies under 12 months of age and adults over 60.
Why Are Your Eyes Watering Constantly?
1. Over-Production of Tears
This usually happens when you have an underlying condition or disease. Here are some common issues leading to over-production of tears.
- Dry-Eye Syndrome: It means your eyes become so dry that they become irritated easily. This dryness triggers the lacrimal glands to produce excessive tears which overwhelm the natural drainage system of your eyes. You are more likely to have dry eyes later in your life because tear production decreases with age. Living in a dry or windy environment is another reason to develop dry-eye syndrome. What's more, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) can also cause dry-eye syndrome in adults along with other symptoms such as itchy eyes, blurred vision, and burning eyes.
- Allergies: Exposure to allergens can trigger an allergic reaction which can make your eyes become red and irritated. This prompts tear production, burning, and itching. Tree, grass, and weed pollens are the most common outdoor causes of eye allergies. Indoor allergens including dust mites, pet dander, and molds can cause the same problem.
- Infections: You body starts producing excessive tears when dealing with an eye infection, which can help keep your eye lubricated and wash away harmful germs. Blepharitis and conjunctivitis are the two most common eye infections that can cause watery eyes. You can develop conjunctivitis due to an infection caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses, and those who wear contact lenses are at a higher risk of developing this condition.
- Irritants: Anything that irritates your eyes will lead to an increased production of tears. Bright light, dry air, smoke, wind, an eyelash, dust, and exposure to chemicals are some of the irritants leading to eyes watering constantly.
2. Faulty Drainage of Tears
Some newborns have watery eyes because they are born with underdeveloped tear ducts. The problem goes away with time as the ducts develop. However, you may experience the same problems when you have blocked ducts or narrowed ducts.
Your tears cannot drain away properly when tear ducts are blocked or narrowed, leading to the buildup of tears in the tear sac and watering eyes. This buildup of tears increases the risk of infection in that area and prompts your eyes to produce a sticky liquid, which aggravates the whole situation.
Treatments for Watering Eyes
When you have eyes watering constantly, you need to pay attention to what causes it and find a treatment accordingly. Here are some treatment options for you to consider.
1. Home Remedies
When your watery eyes are the result of dry eye syndrome, you can always try some home remedies to improve your condition. For instance:
- Avoid watching TV and reading for a period of time to give your eyes time to recover.
- Use lubricating eye drops to keep your eyes lubricated.
- Place a warm, damp cloth over your affected eye for at least 5 minutes and massage the eyelids to relieve dryness.
- You may have to take antibiotics in case your watery eyes are because of conjunctivitis.
- No medications can be used if it is a viral infection. You may have to wait until the infection goes away on its own.
- You have to take antihistamine medication if your eyes are watering constantly because of an allergic reaction.
3. Minor Procedure
You may require a minor procedure to correct problems such as an inward-growing eyelash or a piece of grit irritating your eye. An eye specialist will help you in this regard. They may perform a minor operation under local anesthesia to fix these problems and therefore treat your watery eyes.
You may require surgery if you have blocked tear ducts. You will have to take antibiotics first in case you have an infection.
- Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR): The surgical procedure involves treating blocked tear ducts by creating a new channel starting from the tear sac and leading to the inside of your nose. This helps tears to drain properly through the new channel. You may have to deal with some swelling and bruising due to this procedure.
- Operation to drain the tears: Your doctor may consider perform an operation to drain the tears if the drainage channels are completely blocked. They will insert a small glass tube to drain the tears.
When to See a Doctor
You should see your doctor immediately if you have eyes watering constantly with other problems such as reduced vision, a foreign body sensation, and pain around your eyes. You should also talk to your doctor if your watery eyes persist for a long time.