Are you suffering from eyes that tear excessively? Is it affecting your daily routines and plans adversely? Many individuals continue to suffer from the condition of Epiphora without coming to realize that it is, in fact, a medical condition that can be treated. Epiphora is the medical name for the condition of excessive tearing. In many cases, epiphora is a symptom of another underlying medical condition. The condition of epiphora has the capacity to plague individuals for several years, unless treatment is sought. An individual’s quality of life can also be severely hampered. Routine activities like reading or driving become extremely difficult.
Understanding the condition
Before you seek treatment, it is always important to have a basic understanding of the condition, so that you can ask a medical specialist the right questions. Tearing is a natural process and is one of the key ways in which the eye receives important nutrients. Tears contain compounds known as immunoglobulins (antibodies) that are vital in staving off eye infections and diseases. Moreover, tears physically displace bacteria and other foreign bodies that gather around the eye that may be dangerous.
Our tears are secreted by the lacrimal gland. The lacrimal gland consists of three individual layers – the outer fatty layer, the aqueous layer in between and the inner mucus layer. The gland itself is located deep underneath the tissue in the upper eyelid. When tears are formed, they exit the gland openings located on the upper eyelid and move across the surface of the eye. When we blink, we naturally direct tears across the surface of our eyes and downward into the inner eyelid. When tears reach the inner eyelid, they are drained through small openings located in the inner corners of the eyelids. Eventually, tears drain out the through the nose after traveling through the lacrimal sac, also known as the tear sac.
Reasons behind excessive tearing
Excessive tearing may be caused for a number of reasons. Eyelid malposition, eyelid malfunction and eyelid inflammation are some of the more common causes of epiphora. Essentially, when the blinking mechanism is compromised for one reason or another, tears are not able to move into the tear sac to be drained. Eyelid inflammation may interfere with the functionality of the outermost fatty layer of the lacrimal gland thereby leading to conditions like dry eye, constant irritation and reflexive tearing. Eyelid malposition occurs when the eyelid margin is forced inwards. The friction between the eyelashes and the eye causes irritation and excessive tear production. Conversely, when the eyelid margin is turned outward, it leaves the inner surface of the eye exposed to the environment, resulting in irritation and reflexive tearing.
Epiphora can be controlled and managed with Botox treatments. The treatment involves the injection of botulinum toxin into the lacrimal gland so as to limit the amount of tear secreted. Excessive tearing can also be caused when the tear drainage system is compromised. When the nasolacrimal duct is closed or blocked, tears cannot be drained out through the nose. In such cases, a procedure known as dacryocystorhinostomy (eyelid surgery) can be carried. The DCR procedure is carried out by an oculoplastic surgeon and involves the removal of a small amount of bone from the side of the nose so as to allow tears to flow from the eye. A stent is inserted into the area for a period of between 3 and 6 months to ensure that the passage does not heal and close.