Watery Eye

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Tearing is a normal function of the eye. Excessive tearing can be a sign of an underlying health condition or disease. The tears of the eye come from the tear gland, called the lacrimal gland, which is located above the outer eye. Tears are composed of water, oil, and antibodies. The moisture from tears on the front of the eye, the cornea, is important to avoid damage of the cornea. The tears drain from the eye through the tear ducts (lacrimal ducts). If the tear ducts become blocked, tears can well up in the eye and fall excessively. This leads to watery eye (epiphora), often mistaken for crying. Tear ducts can become blocked from infection and inflammation, both of which can also lead to excessive tear production. The outer membrane of the eye is called the conjunctiva. Infection of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) is a common cause of itchy, watery eyes, as well as eye swelling.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2014

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REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Causes of Watery Eye
    • Allergy (Allergies) An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...learn more »
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    • Common Cold The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms...learn more »
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      Common Cold Article
      • Common cold facts
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      • How is the common cold transmitted?
      • What are risk factors for acquiring the common cold?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of the common cold in adults, children, and infants?
      • Does it have anything to do with exposure to cold weather?
      • What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
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      • Are antibiotics a suitable treatment for the common cold?
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    • Dry Eyes Dry eyes are caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye, but also can be caused by the drying out of the tear...learn more »
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    • Eye Allergy Eye allergy (or allergic eye disease) are typically associated with hay fever and atopic dermatitis. Medications and cosmetics...learn more »
      In This Article
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      • What are allergic eye conditions?
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    • MELAS Syndrome MELAS syndrome, a rare form of dementia, stands for Mitochondrial Encephalopathy, Lactic Acidosis, and Stroke-like episodes....learn more »
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      • Are there other mitochondrial diseases?
    • Pink Eye Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the...learn more »
    • Trachoma Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Symptoms and signs include redness and irritation...learn more »
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Other Causes of Watery Eye
  • Crying (With Depression, Grief, Pain, or Sadness)
  • Ectropion
  • Foreign Body in the Eye
  • Infection (Viruses, Trachoma)
  • Medications
  • Tear Duct Blockage (From Injury or Infiltrative Diseases, Such as Amyloidosis or Sarcoidosis)
  • Trauma Injury (From Objects in Eye or Direct Blow)


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