HELP! My Eye is Watering!

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By Dr. Richard Carlin

Having an eye that constantly waters can really be annoying. Constant wiping is embarrassing to say the least and leads to smudged eye makeup, irritated skin and often to infection, which may lead to further and more serious problems.

To understand why an eye may water, you must first understand how the lacrimal system works. Tears are made in the lacrimal glands of the upper eyelids, which wash across the eye and enter the tear drainage system through a small hole (punctum) in the inner corner of the upper and lower eyelids. They then drain through the canaliculi into the nasolacrimal sac and down through the nasolacrimal duct into the nose. Incidentally, that is why when you cry, and excess tears cannot be absorbed fast enough by the nasal membranes, your nose runs!

So, if the eye is wet, it means there are either too many tears being produced or the drainage system is blocked. Too many tears can result from such things as an irritant, infection, allergies, certain systemic diseases or even underlying “dry eye”. A blocked drainage system can occur because the opening is closed or out of place. Or, there may be a problem within the drainage system which may be congenital or due to age-related narrowing, infection, inflammation, trauma, tumor, etc.

Therefore, during an evaluation, the first step is to determine whether the watering is due to an over-production or a blockage. Questioning and an external eye examination will determine the cause of making too many tears. Irrigation through the drainage system, which is painless and can be done in the office, will determine whether there is a blockage in the drainage system.

Treatment obviously is based on the cause. It may be medical and as simple as removing the irritant or using eye drops. If surgical, it may require probing or intubation of the lacrimal system or even bypassing the area of obstruction.

If you experience excess tearing call our office at 770-979-2020 and set up an appointment so that we may determine the cause and discuss your options.