Understanding and Addressing Teary Eyes: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Solutions

Understanding and Addressing Teary Eyes: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Solutions

When tears flow from our eyes, it is often a sign of joy or sadness. By  crying  we express our feelings and afterwards we feel relieved in many ways. But what if our eyes water without us crying? There are many causes of watery eyes. The eye is often irritated beforehand, for example by dust and fine grains,  inflammation , pollen or animal hair or by clogged tear ducts. With the subsequent flow of tears, our body tries to contain the damage to the eye. The  enzymes  in tears protect against infection and prevent bacteria from multiplying.

Tear fluid protects the eyes

Tears protect the eyes. First and foremost, the tear film prevents the eyes from drying out and flushes foreign bodies out of the eye. In addition, the film serves as a lubricant for our eyelids and represents an ideal barrier to the atmosphere, which is what makes sharp vision possible in the first place. In addition to proteins, glucose and table salt, the tear fluid contains enzymes to fight off bacteria.

Tear fluid is produced in the lacrimal gland. This releases the tear fluid to the surface of the eye. The openings of the tear ducts are located in the inner corner of the eye. They are responsible for removing the tear fluid.

Causes of watery eyes

Watery eyes are often caused by malfunctions in the function of the eyelids or the lacrimal organs. Furthermore, increased tear production and blocked or altered tear ducts can lead to watery eyes.

The following triggers can make your eyes water for a short time:

  • Yawning  causes the tear ducts to empty all at once by stretching the eyelids. Too much tearing causes watery eyes for a short time.
  • When  we laugh hard  , the nervous system activates our tear ducts. The excess tears then cause watery eyes.
  • Small injuries  such as scratches on the  cornea  can be caused by granules, dust, pollen or small hairs. The eye reacts by increasing tear production. The  proteins  and enzymes in tears aid in healing.

External factors as the cause of watery eyes

External factors can also cause watery eyes. For example, if there is a  foreign body  in the eye, it reacts with increased tears in order to flush the foreign body out of the eye.

cool breeze  can also cause your eyes to start watering. The tear film evaporates and the eyes dry out. To counteract the dryness, the eye produces an excessive amount of fluid. 

Dry eyes  can also be caused by  bad air  or  contact lenses  . If the period of dry eyes lasts for some time, the eye forms an excess of tear fluid and constantly sheds tears. 

Poorly  fitted glasses  can also mean that the eye has to focus more to see something. This can sometimes lead to increased tear flow.

Computer  work is also  a great strain on the eyes. When working on the PC for a long time, people hardly ever look into the distance. Therefore, in the long run, the eye cannot meet the demands placed on the eye by constantly looking at the nearby screen. Lacrimation is then a possible reaction of the eye. 

Watery eyes: diseases as a cause

If watery eyes last longer than a day, the cause in most cases is linked to an illness. In such cases, it is advisable to seek treatment from a doctor. Possible disease-related triggers for watery eyes can be:

  • Allergy :   In an allergy like  hay fever  , allergens in the nose cause an inflammatory response that often extends to the eyes. These react with an increased flow of tears in order to heal themselves. 
  • Cold :  When you have a cold, your mucous membranes swell. As a result, they prevent the tear duct from transporting the tear fluid, which usually leads to excess tears draining down the lower lid.
  • Incorrect composition of the tear fluid:  The lack of proteins and enzymes can lead to infections, which promotes watery eyes.
  • Age-related changes:  The muscles and the supporting connective tissue around the eyelids and the tear organs become increasingly slack, so that the drainage of tears can no longer be regulated as well. The tear fluid collects on the lower lid and runs out of the eye.
  • Diabetes  mellitus:  High levels of sugar in the blood can temporarily alter the blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to a temporary drop in vision. This in turn causes watery eyes. Once the blood sugar level is balanced, the retina recovers and the tearing of the eyes stops. 

Accompanying symptoms of watery eyes

Tears in the eyes are often accompanied by other symptoms. For example, if there is a foreign body in the eye, it will start to burn and  itch . A scratchy feeling in the eye can also occur.

In the case of irritated and watery eyes, it is also not uncommon for the eyes to hurt, the eyelids to be swollen and pressure to spread over the eyes. These symptoms then trigger other side effects such as sensitivity to light or visual disturbances.

What to do with watery eyes?

Especially when watery eyes are caused by dryness of the conjunctiva, those affected can often take measures themselves to alleviate the symptoms. It is advisable to  air the room frequently  and spend a lot of time in the fresh air. Bad exhaust air such as smoke and drafts should be avoided by those who suffer. You should also make sure that you rinse your eyes with clear water more often than usual.

When working on the computer, those affected can alleviate the symptoms by frequently looking into the distance.

Watery eyes in contact lens wearers can be caused by improper handling of the lenses. Lens wearers should therefore pay attention to thorough cleaning and take frequent breaks in wearing them. If the symptoms do not subside, it is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist or optician. 

Often the tears are wiped from the eyes with handkerchiefs. It should be ensured that a fresh handkerchief is always used so that no bacteria get into the eyes. Those affected should also  wash their hands regularly . This can, for example, minimize the risk of infection in the case of  conjunctivitis  or prevent additional contamination of the eye.

When to go to the doctor?

If the watery eyes last for  several days or weeks  , it is advisable to consult a doctor. This can find out the actual reason for the watery eyes and thus prevent worse things like visual damage and examine those affected for possible diseases. The doctor may also prescribe eye drops to bring tear production back into balance.


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