Watery Eyes:Symptoms,Causes,Treatments

Our bodies produce tears to keep our eyes lubricated, and to help remove any foreign bodies. But when the body produces too many tears, or tear drainage is affected, the result is excessively watery eyes. While never harmful, watery eyes can be troublesome and irritating. Thankfully, new and improved management options are helping to reduce watering significantly even though there is usually no outright cure.


Watery eyes are characterised by an excess of tears, which can give the eyes a glassy look, and may result in tears running or dripping from the eyes.

Some excessive tear production is natural in cold or windy environments, or if a foreign body gets into the eye. However, excessive and constant watering is not normal, and may occur for a number of reasons.


Too many tears

Tear over-secretion is usually caused by irritation or inflammation of the surface of the eye. This can occur for a number of reasons, including eyelash and eyelid problems or allergies. Oddly, a dry eye problem can sometimes cause watery eyes, because the eye produces excess tears to combat the irritation and dryness.

Poor tear drainage

Watery eyes can also occur when the eye’s tear drainage channels can’t drain a normal volume of tears. A blocked tear drainage duct can cause this, or it can be created by narrow or displaced tear drainage openings (puncta), or lax eyelids causing the normal tear drainage ‘pump’ (usually activated by blinking) to fail.


In the case of excessive tear production, watery eyes can often be treated very simply, by stabilising the tear film with a number of interventions including warm compresses, or stronger IPL treatment. Assessment in our dedicated ocular surface clinic can help direct appropriate treatment. Treatment for tear drainage problems usually require surgical assistance, but there’s no need to worry, as most treatments are quick and highly effective.


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