Watery eyes are one of the most common teary eyed discomforts. Normally, tears help keep the eyes lubricated and washes any foreign particles or dust that may enter the eye. Also, tears form a part of the immune system, thus, protecting against infection.
The glands under the upper eyelids produce tears. Blinking leads to a uniform spreading of tears over the eyes. The produced tears either evaporate or are drained out. When this balance is lost, tears collect in the eyes resulting in watery eyes.
This teary eyed condition is mostly benign and resolve on their own. However, sometimes, it can take a sinister turn and require medical attention.
The medical term for watery eyes is called epiphora.
Causes of watery eyes
Although it is common to have a temporary bout of excess tears when feeling emotional, some cases of watery eyes are, in fact, a genuine medical condition.
One of the most common reasons for watery eyes is dry eye syndrome. Poor lubrication of eyes causes the production of more tears to occur. This cycle goes on to result in becoming teary eyed.
Not only the lack of lubrication but also, if the tears lose its balance of water, salt, and oils, it results in dry eyes. As a result of the irritation, there is an overproduction of tears, again, causing itchy watery eyes.
Some of the most prevalent causes of epiphora are:
- weather conditions (dusty, windy, cold, sunny)
- excessive strain on the eye
- environmental factors (bright light, smoke)
- common cold and allergies
- inflamed eyelids (blepharitis)
- eyelid abnormalities (ectropion/entropion)
- ingrowing eyelash (trichiasis)
- pink eye or other infections
- tear ducts are blocked
- foreign objects, chemicals, or irritating substances in the eye
- injury to the eye
- some medications
- cancer treatments
Normally, watery eyes are temporary and resolve on their own. However, the state of being teary eyed might persist longer than expected in some cases.
When to be worried?
If the epiphora is persistent, it is always better to see a doctor. If any of the following accompanies your dry eyes, see a doctor immediately:
- vision loss or disturbances
- injured or scratched eye
- chemicals in your eye
- discharge or bleeding from your eye
- a foreign object stuck in the eye
- eyes are red, irritated and swollen or sore
- unexplained bruising surrounding the eye
- tenderness around the nose or sinuses
- severe headache along with eye issues
- persistent watery eyes
Home remedies for watery eyes
As troubling and as annoying as watery eyes are, it can often be managed at home. Here are a few ways as to how you can manage watery eyes at home:
Do not rub your eye:
Never rub your eye no matter how irritating it gets. Not even when there is something in your eye. Rubbing the eyes exacerbates the discomfort and can lead to damaging the eyes.
Maintain good hand hygiene:
Never touch your eyes with dirty, unclean hands. Always clean and sanitize the hands before it meets the eye.
Gentle heat therapy:
Placing a mildly warm compress on the affected eye helps in the case of watery eyes due to blocked duct. The heat not only relieves the discomfort but also has a gentle, soothing effect. It helps ease congestion in the tear duct causing drainage of the excess tears.
Maintain caution with contact lenses:
Always remove the contact lenses when taking a nap or going to sleep. It is also better to avoid contact lenses when swimming or showering.
Wearing protective eyewear such as sunglasses, shields your eyes from harmful substances in the air, especially if the weather is cold or windy. Dark sunglasses are the best for itchy watery eyes because the eyes are extra photosensitive in such cases. Wearing dark glasses helps maintain comfort in the sun.
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Clean your eyewear:
sunglasses or spectacles accumulate dust and grime with time. Always wipe the eyewear clean before putting it on.
This helps minimize the risk of eye infection. The sharing of eye products and eyewear is the most accessible mode of spreading eye infections.
Using a mild eye cleanser:
A mild cleanser such as rose water can be used when dealing with a watery eye. Rosewater serves as a gentle eye tonic and helps in the prevention and treatment of ocular infections such as conjunctivitis. These benefits are a result of the inherent pain-relief and antiseptic properties of rose water.
Despite its ability of self-cleansing, the natural mechanism of the eye sometimes isn’t enough. Especially in cases of itchy watery eyes, regular rinsing with splashes of cool and clean water provides relief. But be careful not to rub while doing so.
Rinsing with cool and clean water helps clear eyes of any irritant that may be present. This results in a reduction of irritation to the eyes.