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Managing Excessive Eye Watering: Understanding and Treating Epiphora

Epiphora: Understanding Excessive Eye Watering and Its SymptomsHave you ever found yourself constantly wiping away tears that seem to flow uncontrollably from your eyes? If so, you may be experiencing a condition known as epiphora.

Epiphora is characterized by excessive eye watering, which can be bothersome and even interfere with your daily activities. In this article, we will explore the definition and types of tears, the causes of excessive eye watering, as well as the symptoms associated with epiphora.

By the end, you will have a better understanding of this condition and what you can do to manage it. 1.

Definition and Types of Tears:

1.1 Epiphora and Tear Production:

Epiphora is a term used to describe the excessive production of tears, resulting in tears spilling onto the cheeks. Tears are produced by the lacrimal gland, located above the outer corner of each eye, with the purpose of lubricating and protecting the eyes.

Tear production is a complex process that involves different types of tears. 1.2 Types of Tears:

Emotional tears, also known as psychic tears, are triggered by strong emotions such as sadness, happiness, or laughter.

These tears serve as a way for your body to release built-up emotions and are different from the tears produced for lubrication. Basal tears, on the other hand, are constantly produced to keep the eyes moist and prevent them from drying out.

Lastly, reflex tears are produced in response to irritants, such as dust or onion vapors, to wash away the irritants and protect the eyes. 2.

Causes of Excessive Eye Watering:

2.1 Overproduction of Tears:

One of the main causes of epiphora is the overproduction of tears. This can occur due to various factors, such as emotional distress, allergies, or irritation of the eyes.

The excessive tear production overwhelms the normal tear drainage system, leading to tears overflowing onto the cheeks. 2.2 Underlying Eye Conditions:

Several eye conditions can also contribute to excessive eye watering.

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eyes. This inflammation can cause excessive tearing, along with redness and discharge.

Chemical or fume exposure can irritate the eyes, leading to increased tear production as a protective mechanism. Dry eye syndrome, characterized by insufficient tear production or poor tear quality, can also result in excessive watering as the eyes try to compensate for the lack of moisture.

Additionally, certain eyelid abnormalities, such as entropion (inward turning of the eyelid), ectropion (outward turning of the eyelid), or trichiasis (inward or outward growing eyelashes), can disrupt the normal tear drainage system, causing tears to accumulate and spill over. 3.

Symptoms of Epiphora:

3.1 Excessive Eye Watering:

The primary symptom of epiphora is excessive eye watering, with tears continuously spilling onto the cheeks. This can be particularly bothersome and inconvenient, as it may interfere with activities such as reading, watching television, or wearing makeup.

3.2 Other Symptoms:

In addition to excessive tearing, individuals with epiphora may also experience other symptoms. Their eyes may constantly feel overly moist, with a sensation of tears pooling in the eyes.

This can lead to blurred vision, making it difficult to focus on objects or perform tasks requiring clear eyesight. In summary, epiphora is a condition characterized by excessive eye watering, which can be caused by various factors, including overproduction of tears and underlying eye conditions.

Understanding the different types of tears and their roles in tear production is essential in recognizing the complexity of this condition. By being aware of the causes and symptoms of epiphora, individuals affected by this condition can seek appropriate medical attention and management techniques to improve their quality of life.


1. Mayo Clinic Staff.

(2019, November 6). Epiphora (watering eye).

Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from


Christakis-Ham, H.B. (2005). Evaluation and management of tearing.

American Family Physician, 72(5), 823-828. Retrieved from

Treatment of Epiphora: Options and When to Seek Medical AttentionExcessive eye watering, or epiphora, can be frustrating and affect your daily life.

However, the good news is that there are treatment options available to help manage this condition. In this article, we will delve into the various treatment approaches for epiphora, ranging from natural resolution for mild cases to medical and surgical interventions for more severe situations.

Additionally, we will explore when it is crucial to seek medical attention. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the treatment options and know when it is necessary to consult a doctor.

3. Treatment of Epiphora:

3.1 Mild Cases and Natural Resolution:

For individuals with mild cases of epiphora, the symptoms may resolve on their own without the need for treatment.

Mild cases often occur due to temporary factors, such as temporary eye irritants or emotional distress. In these situations, it is recommended to provide symptom relief by gently wiping away excess tears and avoiding known irritants.

As the underlying cause resolves or the emotional distress subsides, the excessive eye watering usually improves. 3.2 Medical and Surgical Treatments:

If the epiphora persists or is caused by underlying eye conditions, medical and surgical treatments may be necessary.

Here are some of the treatment options:

3.2.1 Eye Drops:

Eye drops may be prescribed to help manage the underlying eye conditions contributing to epiphora. For example, in cases of dry eye syndrome, artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can help improve tear film stability and alleviate symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory eye drops can be used to reduce inflammation associated with conjunctivitis and relieve excessive tearing. 3.2.2 Medical Procedures:

In cases where the excessive eye watering is due to a blocked lacrimal drainage system, medical procedures may be recommended.

These procedures aim to restore normal tear drainage and alleviate the symptoms of epiphora. Flushing the tear ducts with saline solution or medications can help clear any blockages.

Another approach is stenting, where a thin tube is placed temporarily or permanently to maintain an open drainage channel. 3.2.3 Surgical Interventions:

Surgical options may be considered for more complex cases of epiphora.

Procedures like punctoplasty involve creating a small incision or widening the existing punctum, which is the tiny opening at the inner corner of the eyelid that drains tears. This ensures proper tear drainage and reduces excessive watering.

Balloon catheter dilation is another surgical technique that can be used to open up a blocked tear duct. In more severe cases where the blockage is persistent, a surgical procedure called dacryocystorhinostomy may be performed.

This involves creating a new tear drainage pathway to bypass the blockage and allow tears to drain properly. 4.

When to See a Doctor:

4.1 Serious Symptoms:

While mild cases of epiphora may resolve on their own, there are certain symptoms that should not be ignored. If you experience any of the following, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly:

– Pain or swelling in or around the eyes: These may indicate an infection or other serious condition that requires immediate evaluation.

– Changes in vision: Any changes in your vision, such as sudden blurriness or double vision, should be addressed promptly to identify and treat any underlying issues. – Consistent eye redness: Persistent redness may indicate an underlying infection or inflammation that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

– Corneal erosion: If excessive tearing leads to corneal erosion, characterized by a loss of the corneal epithelium, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further damage and support healing. – Foreign body sensation: If you constantly feel like there is something in your eye, or experience a gritty or scratchy feeling, it is important to consult an eye doctor to rule out any foreign bodies or corneal abrasions.

4.2 Importance of Consulting a Doctor:

Consulting an eye doctor is essential for individuals experiencing persistent epiphora or symptoms that are interfering with daily activities. A qualified eye doctor can evaluate the underlying causes of the excessive tearing and advise on the most appropriate treatment options.

Prompt medical attention not only ensures proper diagnosis but also helps provide clarity and relief from the symptoms associated with epiphora. In conclusion, the treatment of epiphora varies depending on the severity and underlying causes.

Mild cases may resolve on their own or with simple measures such as avoiding irritants. However, if the symptoms persist or are caused by underlying eye conditions, medical and surgical treatments may be necessary.

It is crucial to seek medical attention if you experience serious symptoms or if the excessive tearing is negatively impacting your quality of life. Consulting an eye doctor will help determine the most appropriate treatment and alleviate the bothersome symptoms of epiphora.


1. Mayo Clinic Staff.

(2019, November 6). Epiphora (watering eye).

Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from


Christakis-Ham, H.B. (2005). Evaluation and management of tearing.

American Family Physician, 72(5), 823-828. Retrieved from

In conclusion, the management of epiphora, or excessive eye watering, encompasses a range of treatment options based on the severity and underlying causes of the condition.

Mild cases may resolve on their own, while medical and surgical interventions are available for more persistent or complex situations. It is crucial to seek medical attention if serious symptoms arise or if the excessive tearing interferes with daily life.

Consulting an eye doctor can help identify the underlying causes and provide appropriate treatment, ultimately alleviating the bothersome symptoms associated with epiphora. Remember, proactive measures and timely intervention are key in finding relief and maintaining optimal eye health.

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