What Causes Excessive Tearing?

What Causes Excessive Tearing?

Tears keep the surface of the eyes healthy and lubricated. However, excessive tearing in one or both eyes (a condition known as epiphora) can make it difficult to see. Sometimes excessive tearing can be accompanied by pain around the eyes, a foreign body sensation in the eyes or having to constantly dry tears that roll down one’s cheek. At that point, it is essential to seek the expertise of an eye doctor to diagnose and treat the problem.

In order to effectively treat excessive tearing, the Eyesthetica team must evaluate the problem and correctly identify its cause. Once our Los Angeles area oculofacial specialist doctors understand the source of the tearing, we can recommend the safest treatment option.

Narrow or Blocked Tear Ducts

Imagine a storm drain carrying away rainwater so it doesn’t build up on the roads, and you can understand the mechanics of the tear ducts. Tear ducts don’t produce tears, but they carry the tears away from the eyes. If the tear ducts become blocked, the tears cannot properly drain out of the eyes. Instead, the liquid builds up in the tear sac.

Our eye doctors can perform a procedure called dacryocystorhinostomy (or DCR) to clear the obstruction and create a new opening for the tear drainage. They can also place a small stent or plug in the opening to keep it clear.

Some babies are born with underdeveloped tear ducts or ducts that fail to open into the nose to drain the tears. When this happens, babies can experience constant tearing. However, this generally resolves itself as the tear ducts develop naturally. If it does not, doctors may recommend gently massaging the area around the lower eyelid, or performing a simple procedure to open the tear duct.

Overproduction of Tears

If the eyes become irritated, they may produce an abundance of tears to attempt to wash the irritant away. This could happen in the case of:

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • A scratch
  • A small piece of dirt or dust that gets in the eye
  • Entropion – the eyelid turns inward and the eyelashes grow inward
  • Ectropion – the lower eyelid turns outward

Blepharitis

Another common cause of excessive tearing is blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelid. When the eyelids are inflamed, the glands that produce the oily layer of tear film (called the meibomian glands) become blocked. If the tears do not have enough oil in their composition, they evaporate from the eye’s surface too quickly, which in turn triggers the production of more tears. This is known as meibomian gland dysfunction and it leads to dry eye syndrome.

There are several ways to treat meibomian gland dysfunction, including the use of antibacterial eye drops, gently probing open the glands or performing a LipiFlow treatment that combines heat and gentle pulsation to unclog the glands.

Contact Eyesthetica

If you are experiencing excessive tearing in the Los Angeles area and would like to speak with one of our doctors about your symptoms, please call (213) 234-1000 or email Eyesthetica today. We are happy to evaluate you and recommend the most suitable treatment option.