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The epiphora eye is often described as an epiphyropathy and tear.

Epiphora is caused by excessive or unavoidably accumulated tears. The nasolacrimal system can’t properly drain tears, which can cause over-excitability in a facial region. Tears help maintain the healthy eyes surface but too much tears can cause trouble with vision.

Most of the time, watery eyes resolve without treatment, but the condition can sometimes become a chronic problem. Consult your doctor if you have a prolonged case of watery eyes, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

What are the symptoms of epiphora?

When the eyes become dripping with water it might seem dry to you. Or maybe tears start accumulating in the eyes, draining from your eyes and down your face.

Over-production of tears causes epiphora

When a person is trying to flush off irritants, their eyes can be filled with tears. Some irritant causes can result from tears overproduction in one or both eyes. Many people also have tears containing high lipids and fats. It might interfere with spreading liquid across the eye leaving a dry patch that becomes sore and irritation that the eye produces more tears.

What causes epiphora?

Normally, tears flow out of the tear glands above your eye, spread across the surface of your eyeball, and drain into ducts in the corner.

But if the ducts get clogged, the tears build up and your eye gets watery. Lots of things can cause the problem, like infections, injuries, even aging.

Tears are normally discharged through your tear ducts and then evaporate. When you produce too many tears, they overwhelm your tear ducts, and you develop watery eyes.

In older adults, persistent watery eyes may occur as the aging skin of the eyelids sags away from the eyeball, allowing tears to accumulate and flow out. Sometimes, excess tear production may cause watery eyes as well. Allergies or viral infections (conjunctivitis), as well as any kind of inflammation, may cause watery eyes for a few.

Sometimes trigger watery eyes can be caused by:

  • an allergy or infection ( conjunctivitis )
  • Tear ducts blocked (the small tubes that tears drain into)
  • your eyelid drooping away from the eye (ectropion) or other eyelid problems
  • dry eye syndrome – this can cause your eyes to produce too many tears
  • Bell’s palsy – a temporary weakness to one side of the face
  • some medicines and cancer treatments
  • Entropion-The eyelids and lashes can curve inward and rub against the eye
  • Ectropion- The eyelid sag outward, called ectropion , so the lids can’t wipe the whole eye when you blink
  • The eyelids and lashes can curve inward and rub against the eye, a problem called entropion. Or they sag outward, called ectropion , so the lids can’t wipe the whole eye when you blink.

Pink Eye- Conjunctivitis

Most conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, like the common cold, which is contagious and can take multiple weeks to resolve. Unfortunately, no antibiotic eye drop can resolve the condition. The best treatment is cold artificial tears (no redness relievers), cold compresses and frequent hand-washing.

Eye scratches

A scratch on the cornea is extremely painful and will cause redness, blurred vision and watering.

Causes of epiphora

  • Corneal abrasion (scratch):
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Dry eyes (decreased production of tears)
  • Ectropion (outwardly turned eyelid)
  • Entropion (inwardly turned eyelid)
  • Foreign object in the eye:
  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • Ingrown eyelash (trichiasis)
  • Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Stye (sty) (a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid)
  • Tear duct infection Trachoma
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Blow to the eye or other eye injury
  • Burns Chemical splash in the eye:
  • First aid Chronic sinusitis
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis)
  • Environment – such as dusty weather, wind, cold, and sunshine eye strain environmental factors such as bright light and smog common cold ,
  • Sinus problems
  • Allergies
  • Blepharitis – inflammation of the eyelid
  • Eyelid turned outward ( ectropion ) or inward ( entropion )
  • Ingrown eyelash ( trichiasis )
  • Pink eye ( conjunctivitis ) or other infections
  • Tear ducts being blocked
  • Foreign objects,
  • Chemicals, or irritating gases and liquids in the eye injury, such as a cut or scrape on the eye.
  • Prescription medications
  • Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation


They can make your eye teary, but the other symptoms are usually more obvious, like a swollen, red, painful lump along the edge of your eyelid.

Bacteria are the cause, and a stye will probably go away on its own in a few days. In the meantime, leave it alone and don’t try to pop it like a pimple — you’ll spread the infection.

Blocked tear ducts

The tear ducts are the eyes’ natural drainage system. They are the small holes in the corner of your eyes. The lacrimal glands produce tears, then they wash over the surface of the eye and then drained out through the tear ducts. With tear ducts being blocked, the tears accumulate in the eye surface and then overflow. There are several factors than cause blockage to the tear ducts like aging, inflammation, infection, injury and others.

Some people have underdeveloped tear glands. New-born babies are often dry eyes with clearer eyes within several days of their development. Often swollen eyelashes can be irritating in children and can lead to blindness in both eyes. This condition may worsen during exposure to wind and cold temperatures. The most widespread cause for watery eyes is blocked ductwork, which is narrow. Narrowed tears are generally formed by swelling.

If the person feels the fluid in their nose, their tear system is not blocked. If it is blocked, the liquid will move back toward the eye.

Epiphora in babies

Several conditions can cause watery eyes in infants and children. Some, like tear ducts being blocked or a viral infection, may resolve on their own.

In infants, persistent watery eyes, often with some matter, are commonly the result of tear ducts blocked. The tear ducts carry away tears, similar to how a storm drain carries away rainwater. Tears normally drain into your nose through tiny openings (puncta) in the inner part of the lids near the nose. In babies, the tear duct may not be fully open and functioning for the first several months.

Newborn babies this condition resolves normally within several weeks. Only 16% of the children are affected by symptoms. Sometimes sticky fluids are absorbed through the child’s eyes. An eye care worker may apply cotton wool with sterile water to the eye to clean the skin. The tear duct can be easily drained out using gentle hand massage or by pressing with your fingers or thumbs towards a crease or under your nose.

Other causes of epiphora

Watering eye can result for numerous reasons – that can cause your eyes to produce too many tears.

Makeup and watery eyes

Makeup is frequently used around the eyes, but many makeup products are irritating to the eye and can cause watering and irritation. It’s best to avoid any eyeliner or makeup directly on the “water line.” This area of the eye is where the eye glands produce oil. If these are clogged, not only can the eyes water, but also cause dry eyes.

Less common causes of watery eyes include:

  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • Surgery of the eye or nose
  • Tumors affecting the tear drainage system

Outlook for epiphora

Most cases of watery eyes aren’t serious and will resolve without treatment. You should always call your eye doctor right away if you experience any changes in your vision. Vision changes can be a symptom of very serious eye problems that require prompt treatment.

Treatments for epiphora

To get relief from the discomfort and excess tears, your doctor might remove the eyelash or redirect it so it points in the right direction.

Consult your eye doctor if you have a prolonged case of watery eyes, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

Remedies for watery eyes include:

  • prescription eye drops
  • treating allergies that make your eyes watery
  • antibiotics if you have an eye infection
  • a warm, wet towel placed on your eyes several times a day, which can help with blocked tear ducts
  • a surgical procedure to clear blocked tear ducts surgery to repair or create a new tear drainage system


READ MORE About Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction (Blocked Tear Duct) Medically reviewed by Nicole Leigh Aaronson, MD, MBA, CPE, FACS, FAAP A nasolacrimal duct obstruction (blocked tear duct

Why Are My Eyes Watery? Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on February 22, 2022

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