Consultant Ophthalmologist,
Cataract & Refractive Surgeon

BMedSci BM BS MRCS MRCSEd MRCOpth FRCOphth MMedLaw PgD Cataract & Refractive Surgery

Watering Eye / Blocked Tear Duct

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What's going on?

The eye is watering, possibly because of there is too much tear production or poor drainage of tears from the surface of the eye.

Curiously, a watering eye may be a symptom of a dry eye. There are two forms of tear production – one is the continual gradual production which moistens the eye throughout the day and the other is the reflex tear production which produces water to wash away any irritants or to cry. The front of the eye rapidly dries up due to excessive evaporation. This is worse in a windy or hot environment. The brain detects this and sends an impulse to the tear gland releasing a bucket load of tears causing sudden watering.

Tears drain into the tear duct which begins at the inner aspects of the upper and lower lid and eventually run into your nose. Ageing can cause fibrosis of this drainage system and blockage. The tears subsequently have nowhere to go except for down your cheek.

What will my ophthalmologist see?

There may be an underlying cause for the watering, which should be clear on careful examination.

What will my ophthalmologist do for me?

We will make sure there is no specific cause for the watering. We will also check the position of the lids and check for any in-growing eye lashes. We can also wash out the tear ducts to see whether they are patent or not. If they are blocked then we may recommend an operation.

What do I need to know?

Sometimes we will advise you to use lubricant drops to stop the dryness. The watering will often not go away by itself but often after discussion we can sometimes make a decision to leave things alone if they are not causing too much of an inconvenience.