Health + Prevention

Health problem: watery eyes

If your eyes are watery constantly, the cause may be an eye condition

16 October 2021
  • Tears eye and 2 fingers

When laughing or crying, it is completely normal: the tear ducts open and the tears flow. But when your eyes begin to water without any apparent reason, an eye condition may be the reason. There is no need to worry though as these problems can usually be solved quickly.

Crying out of joy, anger or rage  – from being touched or worried – these are normal human reactions. Tears also have a purifying effect. There is an enzyme in their fluid that hampers bacteria and stops infection. Particular vapours, such as the fumes that arise from cutting onions, can also cause tears. But if your eyes are watery and there is no apparent reason why, then the cause may be something else.

There are many causes of watery eyes

One of the most common reasons for watery eyes is conjunctivitis. This is an irritation or infection of the conjunctiva, or the white area of the eye. In such occasions, a typical symptom besides watery eyes is a very visible red colouration. Doctors differentiate between infectious and non-infectious variants. Infectious conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or bacteria, while causes of the non-infectious conjunctivitis include allergies, irritation from very bright light, foreign particles or chemicals. In both cases you are urgently advised to contact an ophthalmologist and describe the symptoms. Since the illness is infectious, you will quickly receive an appointment.

Antibiotics help with bacterial infections. Otherwise it is usually sufficient to avoid the triggers. An extra tip: in order to dry your watery eyes, you should use tissues. Washing your hands regularly is also advisable. In this way you can prevent the infection from being transmitted. In addition, people who have been infected should avoid wearing contact lenses; they should wear their spectacles.

Another common cause of watery eyes is a poorly corrected vision problem, which causes the eye to work much harder in order to be able to see properly. Optimal and individually customised prescription spectacle lenses, as the ZEISS Progressive Individual 2 Lenses, can be of much help.

Watery eyes are also sometimes caused by a poor composition of the tear fluid. In addition to a large amount of water, our tears are also composed of proteins and a protective lipid layer on the upper layer of the tear film. The result is that the tear film does not adhere properly to the surface of the eye and drains off downwards. In such case, your ophthalmologist can help with special drops.

Other possible causes for watery eyes are injuries to the surface of the cornea from foreign particles or scratches. Reflexively, the body produces significantly more tears. Some people may also have eyelids which are improperly positioned. Experts speak then of an entropium, an eyelid which is turned downwards, or an ectropium, an eyelid which is turned upwards. Depending on the severity of the problem, a corrective operation may be considered.

A man sits in front of laptop and is rubbing his eyes

Dry eyes may also cause eyes to water

It sounds paradoxical, but eyes which are too dry can also be the cause of watery eyes. The reason is that after a longer phase of your eyes being too dry, they then frequently begin to produce too much tear fluid. Medicine can remedy this problem.

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