Tears enable the eyes to stay comfortable and healthy. But uncontrolled watery eyes or tearing can affect a person’s well-being and routine life.
Watering eye (epiphora or tearing) refers to a condition in which there is an overflow of tears onto the face, usually in the absence of a clear explanation. There is inadequate tear film drainage from the eye(s). Rather than the tears draining via the nasolacrimal system, they overflow onto the face.
Tears are necessary for the front surface of the eye to remain healthy and maintain a clear vision. However, excessive tearing can make it hard to see. This can make driving challenging or dangerous.
While epiphora can develop at any age, it occurs most commonly in those aged below 12 months or above 60 years. It may impact one or both eyes. Watering eye can often be treated effectively.
A person should consult a doctor if they experience the following symptoms:
- reduced vision
- pain or inflammation around the eyes
- a feeling that there is something is in the eye
- persistent eye redness
It is fairly easy to diagnose epiphora. The doctor will try to determine whether it has developed due to an infection, lesion, ectropion (outward-turning eyelid), or entropion (inward-turning eyelid).
Sometimes, they may refer the patient to an eye-care specialist doctor, or ophthalmologist, who will examine the eyes, likely under anesthetic.
They may insert a probe into the narrow drainage channels within the eye to understand whether they are blocked.
Liquid may be inserted into a tear duct to determine if it exits from the patient’s nose. In case it is found to be blocked, the doctor may inject a dye to establish the exact location of the blockage. This will be undertaken using an X-ray image of the region. The dye will show up on the x-ray.
What’s the Outlook?
Watery eyes are not always a cause for concern. Epiphora may occur due to a cold, an eyelid stye, or allergies, and typically resolves by itself in such cases.
But epiphora may also indicate a serious infection. In case a person experiences epiphora along with changes in vision, pain, or a gritty sensation in the eyes, they should see a doctor promptly.
It is a good idea to wash the hands regularly and avoid touching the face to prevent the spread of germs to the eyes.
People who wear contact lenses may be at an increased risk of eye infections that cause epiphora. It is vital to wash the hands thoroughly prior to placing or removing lenses. In addition, lenses should be cleaned daily and replaced in a timely manner.
A person can protect their eyes and vision as well as prevent epiphora with minor, consistent changes, including:
- Wear protective glasses
- Limit time looking at screens
- Make an eye examination a part of routine health checkups
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