Tearing and Watery Eyes

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Tearing and Watery Eyes (Symptom)


Watery eyes occur when the body makes more tears than loses through evaporation or drainage.


Watery eyes or excess tearing may happen naturally in response to emotions or to cold, windy weather. Otherwise, persistent watery eyes can have many causes, including allergies and infections. A blocked tear duct is a common cause of watery eyes. Complications from dry eyes or eye irritation can trigger the release of a large amount of tears in an attempt to lubricate your eyes. The excess tears overwhelm the drainage system, causing watery eyes.

If watery eyes do not resolve on their own, an eye doctor can determine and treat the cause.

In children, the most common cause of persistent watery eyes is a blocked or incompletely opened tear duct. A blocked tear duct also is common among older adults. Older adults are also more likely to experience dry eyes and relaxation of the muscles that hold the inner part of the eyelid flat against the eye. Both of these conditions may lead to watery eyes. Tears normally drain into the nose through tiny openings (puncta) in the inner part of the lids near the nose. If the eyelid does not lie flat against the eye surface, tears cannot reach the puncta to drain into the nose, so they pool and may run over the lid.