How Can My Watery Eyes Be Dry?

A possible symptom of dry eye is, ironically enough, watery eyes. Certain symptoms of dry eye such as redness, itching, and irritation, are intuitive. However, many people with dry eye also experience watery eyes. How can that be?

How Can My Watery Eyes Be Dry? in Chattanooga

Amplify Eyecare Chattanooga

Causes and Treatments of Dry Eye

Dry eye is typically caused by either an underproduction of tears, or a problem with the tear film that leads to them evaporating too quickly. This leads to the familiar dry eye irritation and similar symptoms.

Eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are commonly used to lubricate the eyes in place of the natural tears that aren’t being produced.

So why do patients still experience dry eye symptoms while their eyes are watery?

Watery Eyes and Dry Eye

Watery eyes are the result of the body attempting to compensate for the dryness of the eyes. In some cases, the body tries to make up for the dryness it is experiencing by producing more tears to protect the eyes.

However, what can happen is that instead of more proper tears being produced, there is an overproduction of the watery portion of the tears. Due to these tears not having the proper composition, they evaporate too quickly to have the intended effect of lubricating the eyes, leading to watery eyes without doing much at all to relieve the dry eye symptoms.

Watery Eyes and Dry Eye
Other Causes of Watery Eyes

Other Causes of Watery Eyes

  • Dusty environment
  • Windy or cold weather
  • Computer vision syndrom or eye strain 
  • Seasonal flu or sinus problems
  • Eyelid turned outward (ectropion) or inward (entropion)
  • Ingrown eyelash 
  • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (a root cause of dry eye)
  • Foreign bodies in the eye such as chemicals
  • Cut or scrape on the eye
  • Stye (bump or pimple on the eye)
  • Eye infections/Pink Eye
  • Eye allergies
  • Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation)
Other Causes of Watery Eyes

Medications that may cause watery eyes

  • Topical blood pressure medication
  • Eyedrops that contain echothiophate iodide and pilocarpine
  • Steroids
  • Taxane, a chemotherapy drug
  • Epinephrene

Common Questions

Normally we have tear ducts located in the inner corners of our eyes that help to drain our tears out of the eye into the nose; but if your tear drainage system is blocked (lacrimal stenosis) and/or not functioning properly it may cause overly watery eyes (epiphora). Additionally, if you’re experiencing excessive tearing, this may sound counter-intuitive, but it may mean that your eyes are dry. When our eyes are dry, they feel irritated and uncomfortable, which stimulates the lacrimal gland to produce so many tears that this then overwhelms the eye’s natural drainage system, causing our tears to roll down our face instead of through our tear ducts. Allergies, and irritants can also cause excessive tearing. Infections can also cause overly watery eyes because part of your body’s response to an eye infection is to produce excess tears in order to keep the eye lubricated and wash away any germs or discharge.
When you have dry eyes this sends out a signal to your lacrimal gland to produce more tears, but then this results in an overproduction of tears causing tearing/watery eyes. The overproduction of tears is called reflex tearing. Your body is trying to counteract your dry eyes, so it then starts to produce more tears, but then it ends up flooding your eyes with too much tears, resulting in a vicious cycle of dry and then teary eyes. That is why it’s important to deal with the root of the cause of the tearing, which is your dry eyes, to stop this sequence of events from happening. But it’s important to also note that watery eyes can be caused by other conditions as well, so be sure to get a thorough evaluation by your eye doctor to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment.
There are several different ways you can clean your eyelids for dry eyes, one method is to use OcuSoft lid scrubs (or you can use any other brand lid scrubs). These scrubs are packaged in a pre-moistened pad. First you should wash and clean your hands, then fold the Ocusoft pre-moistened pad over your index finger, close your eyes, and then gently scrub your eyelid with your index finger using side to side strokes. Then rinse your eyes with water and repeat the same for the other eyelid. Another method of cleaning your eyelids is using Avenova Antimicrobial lid and lash Solution. First wash your hands prior to application and be sure to remove any make-up or lotions around your eyes. Apply the spray to a cotton pad (or you can also apply the spray directly onto your eyelids with your eyes closed). Then close your eyes and using a horizontal motion wipe the base of all the upper lid lashes at least 3 times, applying to the base of your eyelashes along the lid margin. Then look up and wipe the base of the lower lashes with a horizontal motion at least 3 times, applying to the base of your eyelashes along the lid margin. Then with a new cotton pad repeat on the other eye.
Yes, typically older females going through menopause are more prone to having dry eyes than others. Also people taking certain medications such as anxiety medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, anti-muscle spasm medications, Accutane, beta blockers, contraceptives, as well as certain diuretic medications, are more prone to have dry eyes. Also people who are contact lens wearers who don’t properly take care of their contacts or are wearing contacts with low oxygen permeability may be more prone to dry eyes. Additionally, people who tend to work on a digital screen for a prolonged period of time can increase their risk of dry eyes.
You may have watery eyes because your eyes are actually dry. When you have dry eyes this sends out a signal to your lacrimal gland to produce more tears, but then this results in an overproduction of tears causing tearing/watery eyes. The overproduction of tears is called reflex tearing. Your body is trying to counteract your dry eyes, so it then starts to produce more tears, but then it ends up flooding your eyes with too much tears, resulting in a vicious cycle of dry and then teary eyes. To stop your eyes from watering all the time, it’s important to deal with the root of the cause of the tearing, which is your dry eyes, to stop this sequence of events from happening. But it’s important to also note that watery eyes can be caused by other eye conditions as well, such as allergies, eyelid inflammation, blocked tear ducts, outwardly turned eyelids etc, so be sure to get a thorough evaluation by your eye doctor to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. McBryar cartoon

Summary

There are many reasons why your eyes may be watery, one of the more common reasons is dry eye. As counterintuitive as it might sound, watery eyes can in fact be a symptom of dry eye, as the body attempts to correct the problem. If you are experiencing watery eyes or other symptoms of dry eye, you can contact Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga (423) 710 3965 to schedule an appointment. As with all cases of dry eye, it is very important for an eye doctor to thoroughly assess the root cause of your problem before attempting to treat the symptom. 

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  • Vision Therapy is well worth the expense, time and effort. Our son had a hard time focusing handwriting neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time it previously took his abilities to focus and improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

    Also, he was better at listening. As a parent you wanted learning to be fun for our son and vision therapy made this possible.


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