Epiphora, also known as watery eyes or excessive eye tearing, is a condition that causes involuntary discharge of tears from the eye. People with epiphora often find it inconvenient or embarrassing because the condition causes them to frequently dab their eyes with a tissue and they appear as if they are crying. Studies show that epiphora can significantly hinder day-to-day activities.1 There are many possible causes of epiphora ranging from ocular allergies to a blockage of the duct responsible for draining eye tearing. We offer several treatment options for people seeking a solution to frequent eye tearing.
TREATMENT FOR WATERY EYES FROM HOUSTON’S ENT SPECIALIST
Dr. Arjuna Kuperan is a highly experienced and Board Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) as well as one of few fellowship certified Rhinologists in Texas. Dr. Kuperan understands the frustrations of patients with epiphora and he uses his specialized expertise to diagnose the underlying cause of epiphora and recommend a treatment plan to provide relief from excessive eye tearing.
WHAT CAUSES EPIPHORA?
The two primary causes of epiphora are an excessive production of tears or inadequate drainage of the tears that are produced. The causes of excessive tear production include foreign bodies in the eye, ocular allergies, eye strain, and sleep deprivation or stress. The causes of inadequate drainage of tears are more complicated. Generally, there is a blockage of the tear duct drainage system including the tear sac and lacrimal duct which ultimately drain inside the nose (this is why when you cry, your nose runs). These structures of the tear duct drainage system can become blocked as a result of inflammation from an infection called dacryocystitis.
Symptoms that may indicate epiphora caused by dacryocystitis.
- Discolored yellow discharge from the inner corner of the eye
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness from the inner corner of the eye
- Tears running down the face when you are not actively crying
HOW IS EPIPHORA TREATED?
Occasional or mild epiphora will often resolve on its own or may be helped with over the counter eye drops.2 If you experience persistent watery eyes, you should contact an experienced specialist. Dr. Kuperan can use nasal endoscopy (looking inside the nose with a small camera) to better assess the problem and determine if there is a tear sac or lacrimal duct infection. If there is discolored drainage noted inside the nose where the lacrimal duct opens, the lacrimal drainage system may need to be flushed and irrigated.
A fluorescein (a colored dye) test may be performed to assess if there is adequate movement of tears from the eye into the nose via the lacrimal duct system. If there is inadequate drainage of the colored dye then a procedure called an endoscopic dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is performed to open the tear sac. This procedure is performed by opening the tear sac from inside the nose and restoring normal drainage pathways without any visible facial incisions or scars.
1 Shin, J., Kim, Y. & Woo, K.I. Impact of epiphora on vision-related quality of life. BMC Ophthalmol 15, 6 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2415-15-6.
2 Mayo Clinic. Watery Eyes. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/watery-eyes/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050821 Accessed October 21,2020.
Dr. Arjuna Kuerpan has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.