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.

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:


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. Ph... Read more about watery eyecauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision

Popular Eyes and Vision Slide Show