Have you ever wondered why your eyes water so much? Even if it seems like there is no particular reason? Tearing or watery eyes, medically known as epiphora, occur when the eyes become too wet with tears. Although it is a common problem, it can be extremely frustrating; making it difficult to perform daily tasks such as reading and driving. It can also be embarrassing if people keep asking you if you are crying or upset. Constant tears can also irritate the skin around the eyes and cause a rash, an itch, or a painful sensation.
Each patient’s cause of tearing is unique. Because of this, it is important to have your watery eyes evaluated by an oculofacial surgeon to determine the cause of the tearing. After the cause is deduced, your oculofacial surgeon can then move forward with the best treatment option for your particular case.
How Are Tears Made and Drained From the Eyes?
For us to understand why watery eyes occur, we must first know how tears are formed and drained. Your tears are constantly being produced by the lacrimal gland. With each blink of the eyelids, tears are distributed across the surface of the eye; providing moisture and protection.
Blinking also pushes the tears toward the drainage system that is located at the inner corner of the eye. The tears enter the drainage system through a small opening in the eyelids called the punctum. Then, the tears travel down the canaliculi (a tunnel located in the eyelid), into the lacrimal sac, and finally down the nasolacrimal duct which allows the tears to drain into the nose and throat.
So Why Do My Eyes Water?
The most common reason for watery eyes and tearing is dry eye, followed by blocked tear ducts, and sagging lower eyelids.
Dry eye happens when your eyes do not produce a satisfactory amount of tears. When the eyes are dry, and air touches the surface, it causes irritation. To the eye this irritation feels like dust and debris. In order to protect the eye, the lacrimal gland overproduces tears. This sudden increase in tear production usually overwhelms the tear drain, resulting in tears that well up and pour down our cheeks, thus causing watery eyes.
How To Treat Dry Eyes
- Use artificial tears frequently to keep the surface of the eyes moist.
- Use a thicker lubricating ointment at night to protect your eyes while you sleep.
- Avoid windy environments.
- Avoid using fans. If you must use a fan at night, wear an eye mask.
- Invest in a humidifier for your home.
- Think blink! Blinking is what spreads tears across the surface of the eye. Many people only blink halfway, leaving the bottom part of the eye constantly dry. Try completely closing your eyelids when you blink.
For some people, simply treating their dry eye problem makes their watery eye problem go away (or at least become more manageable). For more dry eye treatment options, visit our Dry Eye Ocular Surface Center.
Why Do Sagging Lower Eyelids Cause Watery Eyes?
When the lower eyelids are pulled out or down, it makes it difficult for tears to “climb” uphill to the tear drain. Sometimes the sagging lower eyelids cause the punctum (opening of the tear drain in the the eyelid) to point away from the eye. Think of it as having a kitchen sink with the drain positioned on the countertop instead of the bottom of the sink. The tears cannot enter the tear drain and run down the eyelids or cheeks instead. Fixing the drooping lower eyelid can help reduce watery eyes.