Also known as epiphora, the unexpected overflow of tears from the eye can be both bothersome and socially embarrassing. While most people will experience unexpected tearing from temporary circumstances such as allergy or irritation from a foreign particle in the eye at some point in their lives, for some patients, constant epiphora can be a significant and ongoing annoyance.
There are several causes of epiphora and some patients may present with more than one contributing factor. Counterintuitively, many cases of the watery eye are in fact due to dry eye. As the protective tear film over the surface of the eye thins and dissipates in a dry eye, the exposure of the sensitive cornea to the environment can trigger a reflex to the lacrimal gland to release more tears. An overproduction of tears results in the eye feeling watery.
Poor eyelid positioning or narrowing and blockage of the tear duct system can also cause epiphora. Movement and drainage of the tears produced on the surface of the eye are dependent on the eyelids being properly positioned against the eye and the ability to blink effectively, as this motion moves tears towards the small holes at the inner corners of the eyelids known as puncta. Loose eyelids, weak blinking, or blockages in the ducts of the nasolacrimal system can inhibit the normal drainage of tears from the eye’s surface, leading to an overflow.
We are well equipped for oculoplastic surgery in our Melbourne rooms with the facilities to surgically manage epiphora cases where appropriate, or by comprehensive dry eye management with referral to our dry eye clinic at Eye Laser Specialists in Armadale.