Important Announcement: We've partnered with ReFocus Eye Health to best focus on providing the best patient care possible. Of course, our doctors and staff will remain the same but our name, logo, and website will be updated as we integrate with the ReFocus family of eye clinics. This will not affect your appointments or your patient experience in the least. 

Skip to main content

Eye Tearing

Patients can experience eye tearing or watery eyes for multiple different reasons, some of the more frequent causes are described below.

Environmental Dryness and Weather Changes

Dry environments (as in the winter being indoor with the heater on), wind, pollens or allergens can cause dryness and irritation of the need of lubrication by producing more tears. In theses irritative situations sometimes the quality of the tear is not good enough to properly lubricate the eye, so the eye continues feeling irritated despite the tearing, this triggers the tear gland to keep producing excess of tears and patients to experience watery eyes. 

In this situation the use of a good quality lubricant as over the counter artificial tears can improve the eye surface irritation and decrease the tearing.


This is another frequent cause of watery eyes. They use to be associated to other ocular symptoms as itchiness, redness, swelling.

Frequent eye rinse with saline or eye wash to minimize the contact of the eye surface with the allergens (pollens, dust, aerosols, etc…) can help to improve the symptoms. Over the counter antihistaminic can also be used to control the symptoms of allergies.

Environmental Toxics

Hair spray, cleaning products, perfumes, and other environmental irritants can be the cause of eye irritations and subsequently trigger the tearing process. Avoid these products if they irritate your eyes. If you already present symptoms or any of these irritants accidently make contact with your eye, flush profusely your eyes with saline, eye wash or water. Adding some lubricants as over the counter artificial tears will help too.

Eye Infections and Pink Eye

In addition to watery eyes, swelling, redness, and discharge maybe present. See your eye doctor for a better evaluation and possible treatment. Therapeutic approach will be different if the infection is viral or bacterial.

Corneal Abrasion 

Corneal scratches are really painful. In addition to tearing, patients may experience foreign body sensation, redness, or blurry vision. Corneal abrasion needs to be evaluated by your eye doctor ASAP because there is risk for infection. Normally they heal fast. Intense lubrication with artificial tears and topical antibiotics to prevent infection are used in their treatment.

Tear Duct Obstruction

Obstruction at any level of the tear duct drainage system can cause excess tearing. To assess the status of the patency of your tear duct, your eye doctor may perform a procedure called probe and irrigation of the tear duct. This is a simple procedure performed in the office where fluid is irrigated with a very thin canula in the entrance of the tear duct, located in the nasal edge of the inferior eyelid. If the tear duct is patent the patient will feel fluid coming to the nose and the throat. 

Inflammation of the Eyelid

Blepharitis, styes, debris, and make up on the eyelids can cause irritation and subsequent tearing.

Eyelid hygiene and application of warm compresses can help to improve this eyelid inflammation and the tearing associated.

Eyelid Malposition

Droopiness, laxity of the eyelids, and other malposition of the eyelid edge can be the cause for the tear to not be properly canalized to the tear duct entrance located in the nasal side of the eyelid margin. Basically, the malposition of the eyelid cause, by gravity, the tear to drop to the face and not to run to the tear duct. In this case your eye doctor may recommend eyelid surgery to reposition the eyelid.

Patricia Martinez, MD Patricia Martinez, MD Patricia Martinez Lehmann MD, is a board- eligible comprehensive ophthalmologist and eye surgeon treating patients throughout Blue Bell, Hatboro, North Wales and Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Dr Martinez is originally from Spain. She trained as an ophthalmologist in Barcelona (Spain) and worked there in comprehensive eye care for 10 years before moving to the US in 2010 for family reasons. She loved and missed her profession so much that in order to return to the clinical practice here in America she completed a one year glaucoma research fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital and 4 years of another ophthalmology residency at Drexel University / Hahnemann Hospital (Philadelphia) and West Virginia University Eye Institute ( Morgantown). Dr Martinez areas of expertise include cataract surgery, management of glaucoma and dry eye disease. Dr Martinez speaks English and Spanish.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What is a Conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva is a clear tissue that covers the front part of the eye, specifically the white of the eye (sclera) and the inside of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane that aids in tear production and is part of the ocular immune system.

Sports Vision

When athletes undergo a comprehensive vision examination, it is important to have good vision. However, it goes beyond just checking for 20/20 vision. There are many additional components that allow for good athleticism, including: 

What Ocular Conditions Are More Frequent at Age 40?

The most frequent ocular condition that starts at this age is Presbyopia. This is a normal aging process and cannot be considered as a true disease. Presbyopia is the normal progressive loss of the ability to focus and see things close up.

Dry Eyes and Makeup

Dry eyes is a very prevalent ocular condition, it affects millions of people every year. There are many factors that contribute to whether someone experiences dry eyes. No matter what the cause of one's dry eye is, makeup can amplify the problem.

Snow Blindness

It’s finally winter and you’re planning on going to the slopes. A few things to remember about snow before you head out there! Though the sun rays are not as strong in the winter as in the summer, it is quite possible to get sunburned during the winter.