Do You Have Watery Eyes? Let’s Figure Out Why

Do You Have Watery Eyes? Let’s Figure Out Why

Optometry Kelowna

Very often, patients will complain of watery eyes. Optometrists can determine the cause of watery eyes which is a crucial step in recommending the proper treatment.

Dry eye syndrome

Contrary to its name, dry eye syndrome is a common cause of bilateral watery eyes. It is estimated that 30% of Canadians over the age of 50 are affected by dry eyes. Evaporative dry eye occurs when the oil component of the tear layer is unstable and results in the tears evaporating too quickly. As the tears evaporate, the nerves on the front of the eye become irritated and trigger a tearing response. Treatment is aimed at improving the quality of the tears and supplementing the natural tears with artificial tears


If an allergen comes in contact with the eyes it can cause a variety of symptoms such as redness, itching, swelling and tearing. In response to an allergen, histamine is released from the cells on the front of eyes leading to the allergic response. Watery eyes, secondary to allergies, must be differentiated from dry eye syndrome, as the treatment differs. An antihistamine eye drop may be prescribed and works effectively to combat ocular symptoms.

Blocked tear duct

When one eye becomes watery, it will prompt optometrists to consider the possibility of a blocked tear duct. Tears drain from the eye via two tubes on the upper and lower eyelids that connect to the nasolacrimal duct in the nose. If there is an obstruction anywhere along this pathway, the tears can back up into the eye and the eye will begin to water. A gentle massage on the inner corner of the eye may resolve the issue, however, a flush of the tear duct or surgery may be required. If the tear duct becomes infected, antibiotic drops may be prescribed.


Ectropion is a condition where the eyelid is no longer in proper contact with the eyeball and it sags outwards. Normally, with each blink, the eyelids move the tears towards the tear ducts so they can drain properly. If the eyelid is sagging outwards, the tears will drip out of the eye rather than drain into the tear ducts. An examination under the microscope, by your optometrist, will help confirm this diagnosis and a referral to an ophthalmologist may be warranted.

Watering eyes can be very bothersome as they cause blurred vision, annoyance, may be accompanied by other symptoms and/or be cosmetically unappealing. Despite the multiple causes of watery eyes, optometrists are trained to carefully assess, diagnose and treat this condition. If you have any concerns about watery eyes, please do not hesitate to call Nuvue Optometry and book an appointment, as we are always happy to help.

Dr. Maegan Folk, BSc, OD
Nuvue Optometry
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