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What is Epiphora? Causes & Treatment

What is Epiphora? Causes & Treatment

 

Do you often wonder, “why do my eyes keep watering”? You aren’t crying for no reason! There is something that is triggering the tears; like dust particles or a speck fleeting in the eye. But what if the watering doesn’t stop?

 

If you find your eyes constantly watering, your optometrist might say that you have Epiphora. Don’t worry; we will make this complex medical term sound easier for you. Read this blog to learn more about this eye condition, its causes, and its treatment.

 

What Is Epiphora? (Watering Eyes)

Epiphora is a medical term that describes an eye condition wherein there is excessive production of tears that lead to constantly watery eyes. It is a chronic eye disease that causes tears to flow from either one eye or both eyes, either constantly or intermittently. Epiphora occurs due to a disruption in the balance between tear production and tear drainage.  Some of the reasons why this happens could be improper eyelid position, inflammation or irritation in the eye, or obstruction in the path of the tear flow tract. Another reason for this could also be lacrimal pump failure or facial nerve palsy.

 

In most cases, epiphora is often a reflexive action of the eye while attempting to get rid of any foreign particle in the eye like a speck of dust, fumes, or smoke. In severe cases of this condition, patients may appear as if they are constantly crying. The non-stop flow of tears can cause puffy eyes, instigate headaches and even cause blurry vision. The patient may find it difficult to do routine tasks such as driving or even reading due to persistently distorted vision and watery eyes.

 

Common symptoms of epiphora include inflammation, redness, itching, pain, and even increased sensitivity to glare and light.

 

Why Do My Eyes Keep Watering?

Many reasons could trigger your eyes to tear up. Some of the most common reasons why your eye keeps watering:

  1. Conjunctivitis: It is an allergic eye condition that is characterised by persistent itching and irritation in the eye.  It may also be accompanied by feverish symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose. The redness and itching during conjunctivitis may cause the eyes to react with overproduction of tears.
  2. Foreign particle in the eye: It is a natural reflex action of the eye to produce tears to get rid of unwanted elements that enter the eye. In case of constant irritation, the tear ducts may overflow in an attempt to flush out the foreign particle.
  3. Eye trauma: Any kind of accident to the eye that can range from something as mild as a cloth or finger brushing against the cornea or a serious injury or cut to the eye. Depending on the intensity of the trauma to the eye, your eyes may turn watery.
  4. Inflammation in the eye: Inflammation or infection in the eye or cornea (keratitis) can be another reason for triggering tear flow. Owing to bacterial or viral infection, the soreness and sensitivity can lead to epiphora.
  5. Obstruction in the tear duct: The tear ducts drain away tears to prevent buildup in the eye. When there is an obstruction in the tear duct tract, the ducts can get blocked due to swelling, inflammation, and infection and cause severe epiphora.
  6. Change in eyelid structure: When we blink our eyelids, it allows an even sweep of tears in the eye. What causes your eyes to water a lot is the change in structure or function of the eyelids. This change may occur naturally due to ageing and sagging or as a result of any trauma to the eye. It prevents tears from draining properly and causes redness along with excessive tearing.

 

If you are someone who wonders “why do my eyes water all time”, you must consult your Optometrist at the earliest. Epiphora might seem like a normal reflexive reaction of the eyes but excessive tearing can distort vision, persistent redness, and tears flowing down the face that lead to aggravated irritation.

 

Is it Normal for Only One Eye To Water?

Has it ever happened to you that only one eye won’t stop watering? It is common for only one eye to water in case there is an irritant in the eye. Another cause, as mentioned before, could be blocked tear ducts. Tear ducts can be blocked in either both the eyes or just one eye. Another answer to why one eye is watering could be the narrowing of tear ducts. Due to swelling or inflammation in the eye, tear duct passage may narrow, leading to improper tear drainage and build-up in the tear sac. This condition could also trigger an abnormal amount of tear production.

 

How To Stop Your Eyes Watering?

How to get your eyes to stop watering depends on the cause that triggered the condition. Here’s how you can stop your eyes from watering in the following circumstances:

  1. Allergy or irritants: In most common cases like foreign objects or allergens in the eyes, watery eyes clear up without any medical treatment. Washing the eyes well and using good quality eye drops can do the needful. Prescribed medications for allergies can help calm the overactive immune response to allergens and soothe the irritation and soreness.
  2. Blocked ducts: Your Optometrist can suggest an antibiotic treatment to get rid of the cause of narrowed-down tear passages. A warm compress with sterile water can help reduce any swelling and clean any debris in the eye. In severe cases of blocked ducts and epiphora, you might need surgery to open up the tear drainage passage.
  3. Eyelid change: In case of a change in eyelid structure or function due to saggy skin or trauma, it can be repaired with the help of surgery.

 

Here are some common precautions you can take to prevent epiphora:

  • Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching the face and eyes as much as possible.
  • Replace old and expired contact lenses. Keep your lenses clean and maintain optimal eye hygiene.
  • Prevent excessive eye strain and wear protective eye gear when necessary.
  • Regular eye checkups can be helpful to diagnose any change in the tear duct functioning and eye structure.

 

When should I call a doctor?

If you are persistently facing any of the following symptoms of epiphora you should immediately book an appointment with your optometrist:

  • Incessant watering
  • Constant irritation or redness in the eye
  • Distorted vision due to watery eyes
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Inflammation or swelling in the eyes
  • Feel or notice a lump in the eye
  • Change in eyelid shape or injury

 

Book an appointment at The Eye Lab today and get your eyes tested for watery eyes.

 

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