How to stop eyes from watering when you have a cold?

Ocular affectation in flu and cold

During the winter months, with the onset of cold and changes in temperature, the incidence of influenza and colds is triggered.

When we have a cold, white blood cells that fight infection produce substances that inflame the nasal mucosa and dilate blood vessels in the area, resulting in nasal congestion and rhinorrhea (runny nose). This same process is going to take place in the tear duct, which brings tears from the eye to the nose, causing the duct to clog and tears build up in the eye. That is why when we are sick with flu and cold, the eyes are watery and show tearing, secretions and a feeling of discomfort.

In some cases, the same virus responsible for the cold can lead to the onset of conjunctivitis, which consists of inflammation of the conjunctiva, ie the transparent membrane that covers part of the eyeball and the inner portion of the eyelids. Among its main symptoms, there is the ocular redness, itching and sensation of foreign body, swelling of the eyelids, tearing and whitish secretions.

As in the case of cold and flu, there is no specific treatment to curb the virus, but there are a number of recommendations that can help control symptoms, prevent infection and prevent complications.

  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes.
  • Avoid sharing objects that have been in contact with the infected eye (towels, sheets, pillows…).
  • Ventilate the room and office and avoid smoke.
  • Cleanse the secretions of the eye 2-3 times daily with saline solution.
  • Lubricate the eyes with artificial tears in case of itching and foreign body sensation.
  • Do not wear contact lenses or makeup.

In most cases, viral conjunctivitis has a benign course, but in case of worsening symptoms or impairment of vision, we recommend that you consult your ophthalmologist to assess the most appropriate treatment.

10 causes of eye watering and tearing and how to treat it

Your eyes can water or tear up for many reasons, including weather, allergies or, more seriously, an infection. If you find yourself tearing up suddenly, pay attention to what you’re doing or the environmental factors you’re being exposed to when it occurs, as this might help explain why it’s happening.

1. Irritation and watering due to weather

Changes in seasons typically can cause changes to the eye due to the amount of humidity in the air and allergens. As winter approaches and we increase heat at home, work and in the car, the air loses humidity, which causes the eye to become very dry. Your eyes try to help increase the amount of tears produced, but the type of tear produced doesn’t help lubricate the eye and results in watering of these extra tears.
The best treatment for this is an oil-based lubricant available over the counter. Your eye doctor can recommend the best products.
2. Aerosol-related watering

Most perfumes, hair spray, body spray and air fresheners contain irritants that can cause the eye to become watery and red, even if the product isn’t sprayed directly in the eye. Even just walking through an area with these products in the air can cause irritation.

Flushing the eye with a nonpreserved saline or lubricant eye drop can help comfort the eye. If any of these products are accidentally splashed or instilled directly in the eye, see your eye care professional immediately.

3. Allergies

Spring and summer allergies can cause many uncomfortable symptoms in and around the eyes, including itching, watering, redness and swelling of the white of the eye.
Try to wash eyelids daily to remove any allergens near or around the eyelids. Also, there are many over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops that can help with these symptoms. If the over-the-counter eye drops don’t provide sustained relief, there are prescription-strength products that your eye doctor can prescribe.

4. Pink eye

Pink eye is one of the most frustrating eye conditions. It commonly causes red and very watery, irritated eyes. Most pink eye is caused by a virus, like the common cold, which is contagious and can take multiple weeks to resolve. Unfortunately, since pink eye is usually caused by a virus, no antibiotic eye drop can resolve the condition.
The best treatment is cold artificial tears (no redness relievers), cold compresses and frequent hand-washing.

Related: 4 things you need to know about pink eye
5. Watering and dry eye

It seems counterintuitive, but watering is commonly the most bothersome symptom of dry eye. Tears are made of three ingredients and, if there’s an imbalance in these, the tears won’t stay on the eye and will result in watering. Most commonly, the oil layer of the tears is lacking.
Warm compresses in the form of a washcloth with warm water or microwaveable eyelid mask (available over the counter) are the best option as they heat the oil glands and help stimulate more oil production, which provides more long-term relief.
Oil-based tears are also another option for more immediate relief.

6. Inflammation of the eyelid

Inflammation of the eyelids, or blepharitis, is caused by debris or products building up on the eyelids. This can cause irritation, redness and dryness of the eyelid itself and watering.
Washing the eyelids daily can help significantly reduce this problem. This can be performed using a baby shampoo on a warm wash cloth or using specific eyelid wipes available over the counter.

7. Styes

A stye is a bump on the eyelid resulting from an oil gland being clogged. When a stye is recent and still irritated or infected, it’s referred to as a hordeolum. As the bump becomes more solid and has been present longer, it’s considered to be a chalazion. The gland can be clogged for multiple reasons, including make-up or debris covering the gland. These glands (known as Meibomian glands) are located just behind the eyelashes on the top and bottom eyelids.

The best treatment for a stye is a warm compress. Heat helps to liquefy the clogged gland and release the oil stuck inside. A warm washcloth can be used, although a better option is a microwavable eyelid mask. “Stye” drops that you can buy over the counter only lubricate the eye and won’t help reduce the size of the stye. If the warm compresses don’t improve the size of the bump, or the bump is continuing to be painful, you should visit your eye doctor to see if any further treatment is necessary.
Related: How to recognize and treat a stye

8. Eye scratches

A scratch on the cornea is extremely painful and will cause redness, blurred vision and watering. The cornea is one of the most sensitive parts of the body and usually heals quickly with appropriate treatment.

If you think your eye is scratched, it’s best to see your eye doctor as soon as possible, as scratches can easily become infected.

9. Makeup and watery eyes

Makeup is frequently used around the eyes, but many makeup products are irritating to the eye and can cause watering and irritation. It’s best to avoid any eyeliner or makeup directly on the “water line.” This area of the eye is where the eye glands produce oil. If these are clogged, not only can makeup get into the gland and cause an infection, but styes will become more frequent.

It’s best to replace makeup according to the replacement label; there’s a small icon with a number indicating the amount of months a product can be used. Makeup not used within this time should be thrown away, as it’s more likely to become infected and cause extreme irritation. Makeup also should be removed at the end of the day with makeup remover, makeup wipes or eyelid wipes.

Related: Are mascara and eyeliner bad for your eyes?

10. Contact lens wear

Soft contact lenses generally should be very comfortable while they’re in the eye. If you notice any watering or eye irritation that’s abnormal, you should remove the contact lens and inspect it for rips, tears or abnormalities.

If the lens has any rip or tear, it should be thrown away, as it will cause irritation and continued watering. If the watering or irritation continues, it’s important to visit your eye doctor, as contact lens wearers have a much higher risk of infections.

Related: 6 Contact lens no-no’s

Stephanie Pisano is an optometrist who specializes in contact lenses. She’s also an assistant professor at Havener Eye Institute at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Causes and treatments for watering eyes

The two main causes of watering eyes are blocked tear ducts and excessive production of tears.

Blocked tear ducts

Share on PinterestBlocked ducts are the most common cause of watering eyes in adults.

Some people are born with underdeveloped tear ducts. Newborns often have watery eyes that clear up within a few weeks, as the ducts develop.

The most common cause of watering eyes among adults and older children is blocked ducts or ducts that are too narrow. Narrowed tear ducts usually become so as a result of swelling, or inflammation.

If the tear ducts are narrowed or blocked, the tears will not be able to drain away and will build up in the tear sac.

Stagnant tears in the tear sac increase the risk of infection, and the eye will produce a sticky liquid, making the problem worse. Infection can also lead to inflammation on the side of the nose, next to the eye.

Narrow drainage channels on the insides of the eyes (canaliculi) can become blocked. This is caused by swelling or scarring.

Over-production of tears

Irritated eyes may produce more tears than normal as the body tries to rinse the irritant away.

The following irritants can cause the over-production of tears:

  • some chemicals, such as fumes, and even onions
  • infective conjunctivitis
  • allergic conjunctivitis
  • an injury to the eye, such as a scratch or a bit of grit (tiny pebble or piece of dirt)
  • trichiasis, where eyelashes grow inward
  • ectropion, when the lower eyelid turns outward

Some people have tears with a high fat, or lipid, content. This may interfere with the even spread of liquid across the eye, leaving dry patches which become sore, irritated and cause the eye to produce more tears.

Other causes

There are many causes of watering eyes. The following conditions among others can also lead to an overflow of tears:

  • keratitis, an infection of the cornea
  • corneal ulcer, an open sore that forms on the eye
  • styes or chalazions, lumps that can grow on the edge of the eyelid
  • Bell’s palsy
  • dry eyes
  • allergies, including hay fever
  • a problem with glands in the eyelids called the Meibomian glands
  • use of certain medications

by Kimberly White-Faull, Rph & Katie Reynolds, PharmD of The Pharmacy at Southwest Health

We have waited patiently, and the warmer weather is finally here! With it arrive the green grass, beautiful trees & blooming flowers. For many it also means a stuffy or runny nose!

So is it allergies, or is it a common cold? The two share some of the same symptoms, and it can sometimes be hard to tell which you are suffering from. Both can cause sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, fatigue and cough. However, there are some symptoms that differ between allergies and colds which help us tell them apart.

If it is an allergy, you may get watery, itchy eyes, ears, or throat. With a cold, you may experience a sore or scratchy throat, fever or chills, and body aches and pains. If you develop a “cold” suddenly and often at the same time every year, it may be seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are our immune system’s response allergens in the air, while the common cold is caused by a virus.

Another way we can distinguish if it is a cold or allergies is the duration of symptoms. A typical cold usually lasts 10 days, whereas untreated allergy symptoms can last for months. Often, allergies occur the same time each year, while colds typically occur during fall and winter.

Treatment of the common cold may include rest, hydration, pain relievers and decongestants. In most cases, colds will clear up on their own. But, if your symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days and are not helped by over-the counter medications, it may be time to seek medical care.

Treatment of seasonal allergies may include nasal steroid sprays and oral antihistamines. Beyond medications, there are numerous ways to reduce your exposure to pollen and plants that can trigger allergies. Close windows to prevent allergens from breezing into your home or car, and use the air conditioner instead. Stay inside on windy days when the highest amounts of pollen are likely to be in the air. It will also help to remove clothes you’ve worn outside when entering your home, avoid hanging laundry outside, and clean your floors and fabrics frequently with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

While both colds and allergies can usually be effectively treated with over-the-counter medications, it’s important to be aware of the medications you are taking. Some products contain more than one active ingredient, which may lead to ‘drug-overlap’ if you are taking several products. For example Claritin-D contains an antihistamine and a decongestant, and if you are taking it along with Pseudophed (another decongestant), you may be getting too much. It’s important to read the labels carefully. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

The pharmacy staff at the Pharmacy at Southwest Health is available and eager to answer all of your medication questions. And, we’re here to help you get the most out of your medications, too. Call 608-342-6200 or visit

If you are allergic to something, symptoms usually come on shortly after contact and are more likely to occur during the spring or fall.

Pollen, molds and animal dander are the most common allergy triggers.

If your symptoms appear soon after you’ve recovered from a cold or allergies, it’s likely you are suffering from sinusitis.

In addition to the above-listed symptoms, sinusitis is often accompanied by facial pain and pressure.

Allergies are less severe during certain weather conditions (such as rainy days) and when you remain inside the home, while sinusitis symptoms aren’t likely to let up and often persist for longer than 12 weeks.

Symptom Relief for Sinusitis and Allergies

Your Salem ENT says the first line of defense against allergies is to try over-the-counter drugs first.

If these do not prove helpful, stronger prescription medications may be required.

In the even that even these don’t provide relief, immunotherapy – a long-term treatment designed to help your body build up a tolerance to the offending allergen – might be advised.

Allergy shots or drugs help many Oregonians with allergies develop immunity, but they take time – three to five years to become fully effective, on average.

OTC medications are also suggested early on for sinusitis sufferers. Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and corticosteroids can all help reduce the severity of symptoms.

Home remedies such as warm compresses and humidifiers may also help bring relief.

If Sinus Treatment is Ineffective

When these treatments prove ineffective, your best bet may be surgery.

There are two common surgical sinus procedures; the type recommended for you will depend upon the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you have any structural issues (nasal polyps, deviated septum) that are contributing to your problems.

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery, or FESS, involves insertion of a thin, flexible tool outfitted with a tiny camera lens into your nasal passages.

Images are transmitted to your surgeon, who will remove any blockages that are causing obstruction.

Balloon Sinuplasty is a less-invasive procedure that doesn’t require cutting or removal of tissue or bone.

A catheter with an affixed balloon is guided into the nasal cavity and gently inflated.

This widens the cavity and allows accumulated fluids to drain.

If “allergies” have got you down this spring and medications aren’t providing relief, contact your Salem ENT doctor for an appointment.

They’ll be able to provide you with a firm diagnosis and a treatment solution to ease your suffering.

Related Ear, Nose & Throat Posts:

  • Allergies & the Immune System
  • When Should You See An ENT?
  • Protruding Ears: Overcoming the Stigma

Our Salem ENT Doctors Location

3099 River Rd S
Salem, OR 97302

(503) 581-1567

Watery Eyes Causes, Prevention, Treatment and Home Remedies

Types of Tears

Our eyes produce two types of tears, each of which serves a distinctive purpose.

Basal Tears

Basal tears are ever-present in your eyes to form a protective film over the cornea. These basal tears work as the first line of defense that shield your sensitive eye surface from incoming dirt and debris.

Besides providing a barrier between the eyes and the external elements, these tears are essential for moistening and nourishing your cornea.

Reflex Tears

Reflex tears are secreted by the eyes’ lacrimal glands as a defensive response against environmental irritants that may disrupt the integrity of the cornea.
Your eyes become flooded with reflex tears to wash away the invading agent, such as foreign bodies that get lodged into your eyes or chemical irritants present in smoke and onion fumes.
The lacrimal glands go into overdrive when they pick up on the presence of such irritants, and they secrete a larger amount of reflex tears than basal tears, which leads to excessive tearing.
These reflex tears are known to contain a heavy dose of antibodies to fight off pathogens.

When to See a Doctor

Excessive tearing of the eyes is rarely an emergency and usually gets better without any need for medical intervention. However, if the eyes continue to water despite trying the above basic over the counter remedies for a period of 4 weeks, seek medical opinion.

Medical assistance is also warranted if:

  • The irritation or watering of your eyes occurs after chemicals got into your eyes.
  • There is discharge or pain accompanying the tearing
  • You experience severe eye pain.
  • Your eyes show signs of bleeding.
  • You injured your eye.
  • Your vision is constantly blurry.
  • You have a partial or complete loss of vision.

Expert Answers (Q&A)

Answered by Dr. Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH (Ophthalmologist)

Is warm compress more beneficial than cold compress during watery eyes?

Both warm compresses and cold compresses can be helpful for watery eyes, and it is worth trying both to see what works best for you. This is a low-risk way to take care of watery eyes, though it doesn’t work for everyone.
Try either warm or cold compresses for a few days to see if it helps, and then switch to the other if there is no relief.
If there is still tearing despite these compresses, you should see your eye doctor.

Can rhinitis cause watery eyes?

Rhinitis is inflammation and swelling in the mucosa of the nose, and this is often associated with tearing eyes.
The underlying cause of the rhinitis, such as allergies or irritation, maybe the cause of the tearing eyes as well.
Alternatively, rhinitis can sometimes physically block the tear ducts from draining as well as they should, which means that tears build up in the eyes and sometimes pour down the cheeks.

How to stop your eyes from watering due to allergies?

Watery eyes due to allergies can be very bothersome and are often accompanied by itching, redness, and irritation. Of course, avoiding allergens is most helpful, but this isn’t always possible.
Antihistamine eye drops can be used to decrease allergic responses of the eyes and can help with tearing. Depending on where you live, these may be available with or without a prescription from your eye doctor.
Additionally, artificial tear drops can be useful in clearing away allergens from the eyes and reducing allergic symptoms.
Oral antihistamines can also be useful in treating allergic eye symptoms like tearing.
Overall, it is important to see an eye doctor to ensure that watery eyes and itchiness are from allergies and not from an infection or some other cause.

What is the best way to clear a blocked tear duct?

Blocked tear ducts are a common cause of tearing in adults and children. There can be many causes of blocked tear ducts, but fortunately, this is often correctable with surgical treatment.
In very young children, there are sometimes non-surgical alternatives, as it can be normal to be born with blocked tear ducts which improve with time and special care.
An eye doctor should evaluate you or your child to decide which steps, including surgery, are necessary.

How can you stop your eyes from tearing up in the cold weather?

Cold weather commonly causes eyes to tear up. When the cold air hits the eyes, the body wants to protect the surface from the damaging cold wind and lubricate the surface of the eye. Tearing is beneficial and helps the eye stay moist and safe in cold environments.
To minimize tearing in cold weather, you can try wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses to block the wind, or you can apply artificial tears to lubricate the surface before you go out in the cold.
Avoiding extended periods in cold weather is also an option, if at all possible.

How to take care of watery eyes?

In general, I recommend starting with low-risk treatments and slowly adding therapies if the first does not help.
For instance, warm or cold compresses on the eyes sometimes help patients, and this is a very low-risk treatment that is generally safe for the eyes. If this doesn’t work, you can use artificial tears in the eyes regularly to lubricate the eyes.
The next step for tearing that isn’t relieved by either warm/cold compresses, or artificial tears may be an eyelid scrub using a mild shampoo or soap that is safe for the eyes, antihistamine eye drops, or something else.
Consider seeing an eye doctor if the tearing persists, as you may need to be prescribed medications or undergo surgery to treat the underlying cause.

About Dr. Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH: Dr. Armstrong went to medical school at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, RI, USA. He is currently in his ophthalmology training at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, USA.

References 1. Kuriki R, Hata T, Nakayama K, et al. Changes in tear volume and ocular symptoms of patients receiving oral anticancer drug S-1. Journal of pharmaceutical health care and sciences. Published February 7, 2018. 2. Abdul L, Abdul R, Sukul RR, Nazish S. Anti-inflammatory and Antihistaminic Study of a Unani Eye Drop Formulation. Ophthalmology and eye diseases. Published March 10, 2010. 3. Wang J, Shen M, Cui L, Wang MR. The watery eye. Current allergy and asthma reports. Published June 2011. 4. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences. Published July 2011.

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  • But if you consistently experience watery eyes when wearing contacts, it could be a sign that you’re wearing them for too long or that they’re not the right fit, Dr. Glass says. If you’re worried about how your contacts are affecting your eyes, see your ophthalmologist for guidance.

    4. Your makeup is getting in your eyes (sometimes without you even realizing it).

    This is especially common if you practice tightlining. “Some people put eyeliner on that margin between the eyelashes and the eyes, which is where the Meibomian glands open up and release a thin layer of oil,” Dr. Hunter says. “All day long, that layer of oil wicks onto the front of your eyes to keep tears from evaporating too quickly.” If this swipes eyeliner onto your eyeballs, you might experience irritation, then tearing as your eyes try to flush out the makeup.

    “Look at eyelashes as the sacred line you don’t cross,” Dr. Hunter says. (Though, if you have eyeballs of steel that never seem to be bothered by makeup, tightlining every once in a while may be OK, he says—just know that irritation is always a possibility.)

    5. Or something else is blocking your Meibomian glands.

    Anything that doesn’t let these glands release enough oil can cause overflowing tears, the Cleveland Clinic says. With that said, blocked Meibomian glands are more common in people with inflammation along the edge of their eyelids (blepharitis), rosacea, which can cause inflammation around the eyes, or other skin disorders, says the Mayo Clinic.

    6. You’re having a reaction to something in the air.

    When you come into contact with an allergen, your body releases histamine, a chemical that can cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction, like your eyes welling up. While you might expect this to happen in reaction to your known allergens, sometimes something more subtle can fly under the radar and set this off.

    “Your eyes are sensitive organs out in the air all day long, coming into contact with many different kinds of substances,” Dr. Hunter says. If have random bouts of watery eyes and can’t figure out the cause, this might be why.

    7. You have chronic dry eye.

    Yes, it seems bonkers and hypocritical that your eyes can pingpong between being chronically dry and excessively watery. But that reflex tearing can come into play here, too. While anyone can experience symptoms of dry eye here and there, it can also be a chronic problem that makes your eyes overproduce tears in response, in addition to issues like stinging, burning, mucus in or around your eyes, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and eye fatigue, and more, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    If your dry eye symptoms are persistent, talk to your doctor to see if they can determine the underlying cause, then a treatment plan that makes sense from there.

    8. You have sleep apnea.

    Sleep apnea happens when you stop breathing or take exceedingly shallow breaths at least once while you sleep, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). It can cause snoring, excessive sleepiness, and is linked with various health conditions, like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

    Sleep apnea (particularly the obstructive variety, which happens when your airway collapses or is blocked) also happens to be associated with a condition known as floppy eyelid syndrome, which is when your upper eyelids are more elastic than usual. Instead of staying closed while you sleep, this can cause your eyelids flop open, drying out your eyes in a way that can lead to reflex tearing, Dr. Glass says.

    Sleep apnea is treatable through lifestyle changes, various devices, or surgeries in the most extreme cases—if you suspect you have it, see your doctor for testing.

    If you have no idea why your eyes are tearing up and it’s lasting more than a few days, see your doctor.

    Your eyes are powerful, but they’re also delicate. Don’t wait around if you think something’s wrong. If the tearing won’t go away, is happening with a significant amount of pain, if you can’t see as well, if light is bothering you, or if it’s coinciding with any other strange ocular changes or symptoms, Dr. Glass recommends seeing your doctor ASAP: “These are great reasons to see somebody urgently as opposed to waiting.”

    While excessively watery eyes could be due to one of the above reasons, sometimes they can be one of many symptoms pointing to something even more unexpected, like a thyroid issue. Only a doctor can tell you for sure.


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    Watery Eye

    What is watery eye?

    Healthy tears provide a moist protective surface to the eye. Blinking refreshes the tear film and directs tear fluid towards the inner corner of the eyelids when it drains. Watery eye can be the result of irritation or inflammation in or around your eye that causes your eyelids to increase tear production. Any type of obstruction to tear outflow will interfere with normal tear drainage and cause a watery eye. In either case, one or both of your eyes may become watery. This article focuses on excess tear production.

    Tears are your eyes’ way of protecting themselves and expelling debris or clearing infections. Tears are a combination of water, oil, and mucus. Healthy eyes glisten due to the presence of a balanced tear film. Excess water production in tears can be protective to the eye. Watery eye is usually caused by irritation or infection of the eye, injury to the eye from trauma, or a common cold. Other symptoms of eye irritation, including itching, redness, a gritty feeling, and swelling of the eyelids, often accompany watery eyes.

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    Physical irritants that get in your eye cause watery eye as the body increases tear production to wash away the offending substance, which may be smoke or dust in the air or personal care products such as soap or shampoo. Allergies are a very common cause of watery eyes. An allergy that affects your eyes may be local, such as an allergic reaction to eye makeup, or more generalized, such as hay fever.

    Infections or inflammations of the eyelid margin, the area near your eyelashes, are also frequent causes of watery eye. These conditions include blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin), chalazion (inflammation of a blocked oil gland in the eyelid margin), and stye or hordeolum (localized bacterial infection of an oil gland or eyelash follicle in the eyelid margin).

    In most cases, watery eye is a result of a mild condition and usually resolves on its own. In rare cases, watery eye can be associated with more serious infections or trauma. Because your eyes and vision are vital to your quality of life, be sure to contact your health care provider if you have any eye symptoms that cause you concern.

    Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have an eye injury or if your watery eyes occur along with serious symptoms such as a sudden change in your vision, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain in your eye, sudden swelling of the face, lips or tongue, or difficulty breathing.

    Seek prompt medical care if your symptom of watery eye is persistent or causes you concern.

    What other symptoms might occur with watery eye?

    Depending on the cause of your watery eyes, other parts of your body may also be affected. A variety of symptoms involving your eyes or other parts of your body can occur along with watery eyes.

    Common symptoms that may occur along with watery eye

    Watery eye may accompany other common symptoms including:

    • Boggy conjunctiva (chemosis)
    • Burning feeling in the eyes
    • Crusting of the eyelid margin
    • Discharge from the eyes
    • Gritty feeling
    • Redness of the eyes or eyelids
    • Runny nose (nasal congestion)
    • Sense of a foreign body in the eye
    • Sneezing
    • Swelling of the face

    Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

    In some cases, watery eye may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious, or even life-threatening, condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have watery eyes along with other serious symptoms including:

    • Abnormal pupil size or nonreactivity to light

    • Chemical burns in the eye area

    • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

    • Respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not
      breathing, choking

    • Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain

    • Trauma to the eye

    What causes watery eye?

    In general, anything that irritates or inflames the surface of your eye can cause watery eye. Increased tear production is part of the body’s natural defense system and serves to wash away irritating substances and infectious agents.

    It sounds like a contradiction, but dry eyes are the most common cause for watery eyes. The tear glands go into overdrive if the eye is too dry. Physical irritants, such as smoke or dust in the air or soap and shampoo in your home, also increase tear production. Allergies are another very common cause of watery eyes.

    Infections or inflammations of the eyelid margin are also frequent causes of watery eye. These conditions include blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin), chalazion (inflammation of a blocked oil gland in the eyelid margin), and stye or hordeolum (localized bacterial infection of an oil gland or eyelash follicle in the eyelid margin).

    Common causes of watery eye

    Watery eye symptoms may be caused by several common conditions that involve the eyes themselves or something more widespread in the body including:

    • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin)

    • Chalazion (inflammation of a blocked oil gland in the eyelid margin)

    • Common cold (viral respiratory infection)

    • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye surface)

    • Contact lens over-wear

    • Dry eye (excess reflex tear production)

    • Hay fever or allergic reaction from animal dander, dust, cosmetics or pollen

    • Local allergic reactions to makeup or personal care products (contact dermatitis)

    • Medicamentosa (sensitivity to eyedrop)

    • Physical irritation from substances, such as smoke, dust, soap or shampooStye or hordeolum (localized bacterial infection of an oil gland or eyelash follicle in the eyelid margin)

    Serious causes of watery eye

    Less commonly, watery eye may be caused by a serious condition including:

    • Caustic chemical in your eye

    • Foreign body embedded in your eye

    • Episcleritis or scleritis

    • Intraocular inflammation (uveitis, endophthalmitis)

    • Orbital cellulitis (invasive infection of the soft tissues around the eye)

    • Trauma to the eye area

    Questions for diagnosing the cause of watery eye

    To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your eyelid symptoms including:

    • Have you had recent eye surgery?

    • When did your eyes first become watery?

    • Does the wateriness occur in one or both of your eyes?

    • Do you have any other symptoms?

    • Has your vision changed?

    • Are you taking any medications?

    • Do you have any allergies?

    • Has anything hit you in the eye or flown into your eye?

    • Have you been around anyone with an eye infection recently?

    • Have you had a similar condition before?

    What are the potential complications of watery eye?

    Watery eyes are generally caused by mild conditions and usually do not result in permanent damage to the eye. In very rare cases, a watery eye may be caused by a more serious condition such as a serious allergic reaction or infection, which, left untreated, can lead to permanent complications. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

    • Chronic ocular pain or discomfort

    • Loss of vision and blindness

    • Progression of symptoms

    • Scarring of the eye

    • Spread of infection

    Why Do Your Eyes Water In The Morning?

    Wouldn’t it be terrible to wake up every morning to a bathroom sink that consistently dripped water? Imagine if that feeling persisted daily but with the drip coming from your eyes. For many with consistently watery eyes, the drip is a daily problem.

    One reason eyes water in the morning is the very reason it’s tough to open your eyes in the first place – the light. After being closed for hours, your pupils react to the sudden brightness of morning by producing tears. While the bright light of day could be a cause of watery eyes, so could dry eyesyndrome. Though known by a moniker suggesting parched peepers, dry eye syndrome is usually marked by eye irritation, which stimulates tear production and can be a major cause of watery eyes any time of day.

    Another possible cause for overly watery eyes is that despite a perfectly reasonable amount of tears, they simply have no place to go. A blocked punctum means that the eye’s drain is plugged so tears have nowhere to go but out onto your cheek each time you blink. The punctum leads to the eyes’ tear ducts, which normally drain tears out of the eyes and down into the nose and throat. A blockage is usually something as simple as mucus or other “gunk” from a cold or minor infection, though an eye doctor can clear or probe to remove a blockage if needed.

    What if the morning isn’t the cause of your watery eyes, but rather they start to stream tears down your face as soon as you venture outside into an icy winter wind? Well, it’s not just you personally who finds the cold air irritating – your eyes do too. The cold air dries out the lubrication on the eye and as a result, reinforcements are called in. One possible solution is wearing glasses to help keep the airflow from directly impacting your eyes, or even popping in some preemptive saline drops before heading out the door.

    Regardless of the suspected cause, eyes that often stream tears could be the symptom of a more serious problem like ulcers on the eyes’ surface, an infection, blockage, or other issue, so it’s always wise to get a checkup from an eye care professional to ensure more serious problems aren’t lurking below (or on) the surface.

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