Teary eyes can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Why it happens vary with age. Some of these problems will go away on their own, some may resolve with medication, and others may require eyelid surgery. Keep reading to learn more about potential causes and treatments for teary eyes.
What Causes Teary Eyes?
Common ailments like allergies or sinus infections can cause watery eyes. This is caused by a narrowing of your tear duct due to infection or swelling. Most people have experienced this kind of watery eyes. Persistent watery eyes are usually attributed to an ongoing problem.
Blocked tear ducts are one of the main causes of watery eyes. Tear ducts act as channels to drain tears from your eyes into your sinuses. Tears overflow along your eyelid when these channels become blocked. This causes watery eyes and mucus discharge.
Blocked tear ducts are common in infants and young children but happen in adults too. Babies born with a blocked tear duct have congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction. This usually clears up on its own within the first year of life. However, if it doesn’t get better your pediatrician may recommend your child visit an eye surgeon for further evaluation.
Watery eyes are due to one of two ailments in older adults. One common problem related to age is the eyelid sagging away from the eyeball, which lets tears leak out. The other common problem is narrowing tear ducts. This is caused by inflammation, injury, or ageing. Such narrowing can lead to a blocked tear duct.
Ophthalmologists can diagnose these ailments and refer you for further treatment. You may be referred to an eye surgeon, who can provide you with information about eyelid or tear duct surgery.
Less Invasive Solutions for Teary Eyes
Treatment for watery eyes will depend on the route cause. There are some non-invasive methods to repair a blocked tear duct.
For tear ducts blocked due to infection, the first course of treatment will be a prescription to treat the underlying illness. This could be in the form of an eye drop or oral medication. Medication may also be prescribed to relieve blockage from swelling or inflammation.
A special massage technique can encourage a baby’s blocked tear duct to open. Parents can be taught this technique to help open their children’s blocked tear ducts. Sometimes this works, sometimes not, which is why observation is a critical tool in solving tear duct blockages.
It is important to continue observing tear duct blockages to see if they resolve on their own or will require further medical attention. In infants especially, tear duct blockages often resolve on their own before one year of age. For adults with injuries or swelling that caused their tear duct blockage, you may also be asked to wait and observe if the blockage improves as your injury heals.
Eyelid Surgery and Other Procedures
If you have a severe blockage you may not be a candidate for the procedures in the previous section. Your doctor may recommend other procedures if less invasive methods do not work. Most of these procedures are performed by a surgeon while you are under general anesthesia.
Dilation and Flushing
Your eye surgeon will insert a small probe into your tear duct and dilate it. They will then flush your tear duct with a high-pressure saline solution. You may also see this referred to as irrigation. It is not always a permanent solution but can help clear a blockage.
Another option to help give relief for blocked tear ducts is to place a stent. A stent is another name for a very small tube. These tubes create a passage for tears to drain properly into the sinuses. They are generally not permanent but may cause irritation.
Eyelid surgery is called dacryocystorhinostomy and is abbreviated as DCR. This surgery makes a shortcut for your tears that bypasses any narrow or blocked passages in your tear ducts. In our practice, more than 90% of patients see a reduction in their watery eyes after the procedure.
There are two types of DCR, one called external DCR, and one called endonasal or keyhole DCR. The method your surgeon uses will be based on the severity and location of your blockage. The main difference is the location of the incision. For external DCR your surgeon will make a tiny incision on the side of your nose, and for endonasal DCR your surgeon will make an incision within the nasal cavity. Dr Koutroumanos’ practice nearly exclusively uses the endonasal approach which results in absolutely no scarring.
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