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Epiphora: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About epiphora (watery eye)

Epiphora also called ‘watery eye’ or ‘tearing’ is defined as overflow of tears. Epiphora is not a disease in itself but a symptom of some eye diseases. It can be either acute or longstanding. Tears are important for eyes since they not only lubricate them but also protect the eyes from dust and foreign particles. The tears once produced, usually evaporate after flowing on face and remaining drain into nose via the tear duct.

Epiphora (watery eye): Incidence, age and sex

Epiphora is mainly seen in infants and old age population. However it may occur in individual at any age.

Signs and symptoms of epiphora (watery eye): Diagnosis

Individuals with epiphora may experience accompanying symptoms like redness and itchy sensation in eyes. One or both eyes may be affected. The eyelashes get matted due to continuous watering of eyes.

The eye must be examined by an eye specialist to confirm the diagnosis. Slit lamp examination of eyes may be done to examine the tear film in detail. Schirmer’s test is also done which measures the amount of tear production. The tear duct is also examined to detect any blockage in it.

Causes and prevention of epiphora (watery eye)

The tears in eyes are responsible for lubricating the eyes as well as cleansing them of debris. Epiphora may result from either blockage of the tear duct which is the commonest cause or due to over production of tears.

Blockage of the tear duct can occur in instances of sinusitis or inflammatory condition of nose which leads to inadequate drainage of tears from eyes. On the other hand, excess production of tears may result from infection or allergic condition of eyes like blepharitis or conjunctivitis. Furthermore eye conditions like corneal abrasions, inward turning of eyelashes, eye strain or even dry eye syndrome may result in excess production of tears.

Epiphora (watery eye): Complications

Longstanding cases of epiphora may result in infection of the eyes and also impaired vision in some individuals.

Epiphora (watery eye): Treatment

The treatment of epiphora depends upon the causative factor. If epiphora arises from dry eye syndrome, the individuals are prescribed artificial tears or lubricating ointments to moisturize the eyes. It is advisable to use humidifier in winters to prevent loss of moisture from eyes which may occur especially in winters. Allergic eye conditions may require anti-allergic eye drops to prevent epiphora. Likewise any kind of eye infection may need antibiotic eye drops. Surgery may be considered to correct eyelid disorders like inward turning of lower eyelid and thereby prevent rubbing of eyelashes with cornea. In individuals, where epiphora results from blockage of tear duct, a minor surgical procedure is carried out to open the blockage and cause proper drainage of tears.