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Watery Eyes - Introduction

Watery eyes, medically known as the epiphora, represent a condition which features with overflow of the tears onto the face instead of being drained into the nasal cavity through the nasolacrimal canal. It can affect all age groups. 5% of babies suffer from watery eyes and the symptoms occur at birth. However this medical condition predominantly affects older adults.

Tears are produced by the lacrimal gland. They provide with proper lubrication of the conjunctiva and prevent dryness of the eyes. Once the tears are produced they are excreted through specific canal of the lacrimal gland. They flow over the surface of the eye and collect in the inner corner of the eye. There they enter the nasolacrimal canal which drains the tears into the nasal cavity. In epiphora normal draining of the tears is interrupted and they overflow and occur on the face.

Epiphora may affect one or both eyes and it may also be intermittent or permanent. Excess of tears may interfere in vision particularly at nigh which makes certain activities more difficult. People suffering from epiphora may have problems while driving at night or reading.

Causes of Watery Eyes

In children the leading cause of watery eyes is obstruction of the nasolacrimal canal. In adults epiphora usually occurs due to excessive production of tears which is a characteristic of several eye conditions such as blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Blockage of nasolacrimal canal may also affect adults and even herpes infection of the eye may cause epiphora.

Diagnosing Watery Eyes

This condition can be easily diagnosed with a dye disappearance test and lacrimal irrigation. Additional information may be obtained from an X-ray - dacryocystogram. This examination is not performed routinely, only in selected patients. The goal is to determine the underlying cause.

Treatment for Watery EyesMedicamentousTreatmentIn case epiphora is caused by conjunctivitis, herpes virus, and blepharitis and similar it can be successfully treated with certain medications such as antibiotics, antiviral medications and lubricants. They are usually applied in a form of eye drops or ointments. Surgical TreatmentSurgery is reserved only for certain cases. The surgery includes irrigation and probing. These procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Probing is a surgical procedure which includes insertion of a metal probe down the outflow system into the nose. This procedure punctures the fine membrane which is usually a cause of nasolacrimal canal blockage.

In some patients the surgery corrects abnormal position of the lower eyelid or narrows the tear hole. If blockage occurs in lower parts of the draining system the surgeon may create a new pathway. This procedure is called dacryocystorhinostomy.

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