Having naturally watery eyes can be embarrassing – especially if it happens often at work. But did you know that it can actually be a medical condition, and that there is treatment to fix it? We asked expert ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon Mr Daniel Ezra why some people get watery eyes, how to know if you have a medical problem, and what the treatment options are.
What are watery eyes?
Watery eyes is the failure of your eyes to drain away the tears it produces. Your eyes are constantly producing tears to keep the eye lubricated and normally the eye’s in-built drainage system prevents the tears from building up.
When this fails, you’ll notice that your eyes are particularly watery – and you might also experience other problems such as skin irritation, redness, and stickiness.
Why do some people get watery eyes?
Watery eyes occur when either:
- the eyes are producing too many tears
- the tears aren’t able to drain away properly
If your tears aren’t draining away properly, this might be because the tear drainage opening is in the wrong place, or because the tear drainage pump isn’t working properly any more.
How common is it?
Watery eyes are quite common and can affect people of any age. However, we mostly see it in children and elderly adults.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Many people wonder whether their watery eyes are a medical problem that needs treating or just a natural reaction that everybody else have.
It is normal to have watery eyes if:
- the air around you is smoky
- you get something in your eye
It is not normal for your eyes to constantly water – this would indicate that there really is something wrong with your eyes’ drainage system.
In any case, if your eyes are watering too often and it’s causing you embarrassment – or difficulties at work – it’s worth visiting an ophthalmologist to see if there’s anything that can help.
Can it be treated?
Watery eyes can absolutely be treated – and there are many treatment operations.
In most cases, you won’t need surgery. You’ll be able to treat the eye with eye drops, a special cleaning solution, or medication if the problem is an allergic reaction.
If these don’t work, or if investigations reveal a blocked or dysfunctional tear duct, then surgery will be considered. You can read more about the various surgical options and what to expect from tear duct surgery in my next article.