Can’t Stop Crying? How to Cope with Watering Eyes
If you’ve ever suffered with persistently watering eyes, you’ll understand how irritating the problem can be. Although not in any way a life-threatening condition, watering eyes, or epiphora, as it’s sometimes called, causes tears to flow on to the face, often for no apparent reason.
The condition can affect anyone, but it’s more common in adults over the age of 60 and it can occur in just the one eye or both. Elderly people are at particular risk, as the eyelids naturally sag with age, which means the punctum can no longer reach the eye to drain away tears effectively.
What Exactly is Epiphora?
The term refers to excessive tears coming from the tear ducts and is generally caused by the following things.
- Over-production. When the eyes become irritated, they can produce more tears than they normally would, in an attempt to flush the irritant from the area.
- Blocked tear ducts. This is the most common cause of epiphora. If the ducts become blocked or are too narrow to function properly, this means that tears cannot drain away normally. Instead, they build up in the tear sac, and result in sudden leaks.
- Conjunctivitis, which is an infection of the eye, can also cause watering to occur, though this is generally only temporary and should clear up once the conjunctivitis has been treated.
- The shaping of the eyelid. If the eyelid turns either inwards or outwards, this can affect the tear duct, and result in excessive tearing.
Complications Associated with Watering Eyes
Although the condition is generally not serious, it can cause complications. If tears build up in the tear sac, they can increase the risk of infection in the area, which can cause inflammation to occur, not only in the eye area, but the side of the nose too.
Additionally, if the tear ducts become infected, this can cause the eye to produce a sticky fluid, which can make the problem that much more noticeable, not to mention irritating!
Fortunately there are a variety of treatments available to help resolve the problem. The first thing you’ll need to do is book an appointment to see your GP. It’s possible that you may be referred to a specialist ophthalmologist, who will examine your eyes thoroughly to determine the root cause of the problem.
If it’s suspected you have an infection such as conjunctivitis, it’s likely you’ll be given antibiotics to clear it up. If your doctor thinks that the underlying cause is dry eyes, they may recommend some eye drops for you to use.
Surgery for Watering Eyes
In more severe cases, you may be recommended for surgery. If your eyelid rolls inwards or outwards, you’ll be referred for a minor procedure to tighten the tendon and create additional support. This is a minor treatment and can generally be performed under local anaesthetic. In addition to this, there are other surgical procedures, such as dacryocystorhinostomy, which helps to clear blocked tear ducts.