Do your friends keep asking you why you are crying all the time? When in fact you are perfectly fine, but your eyes just water constantly? Epiphora or tearing is a condition during which tears overflow onto the face without any explanation. Learn about several causes that can lead to tearing eyes.

When does epiphora (watery-eyes) take place?

Tearing can develop at any age if there is insufficient drainage of the tears from the eyes. It is however more common among babies that are younger than 12 months and adults that are over 60 years of age. Tearing can take place among both eyes or just in one eye.

What are the causes of epiphora (watery-EYEs)?

The main causes include over-production of tears or blocked tear ducts. If you are secreting more tears than normal, your eyes maybe irritated. It is a normal reaction to rinse away the irritant. Some common irritants include: onions, fumes, injury (dirt or small stone) or an itch. Certain conditions can also cause increased production of tears. These include, allergic conjunctivitis, infective conjunctivitis or trichiasis (eyelashes growing inward). Ectropion, when the lower eyelid turns outwards can also cause epiphora, or entropion, when the eyelid turns inward.

Underdeveloped tear ducts can be a cause for epiphora among some humans. Newborns may have watery eyes, however, this issue goes away in a few weeks, as the ducts develop. Blocked ducts are a common reason for epiphora among adults. For instance, some adults or children may have narrow ducts due to swelling. Blockage or narrowing of ducts can cause a build up in the tear sacs. If tears are built-up it can increase the risk of infection, producing sticky white liquid. Sometimes the infection can lead to swelling next to the eye or side of the nose.

How to diagnose the condition?

If you are noticing an increase in your tear production, it is best to consult a general physician. The doctor can identify the underlying cause of your watering eye. It can be caused by an infection, lesions or any of the causes listed above. If the GP cannot identify the issue, they may refer you to an ophthalmologist. The treatment options for watering eyes will be presented on a separate blog, keep an eye out for it!

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