What are watery eyes?

Watery eyes result from one or both eyes producing too many tears. Watery eyes can also happen when eyes have a problem draining tears. This condition is also known as epiphora.

Your eyes produce tears constantly to help moisten each eye and wash out any foreign objects or particles. The accessory lacrimal glands on the back of the upper and lower eyelids produce the tears that moisten the eyes throughout the day. The main lacrimal glands, located near the upper outer corner of each eye, produce tears to flush foreign materials out of the eye and for psychological tears during crying. Then tears flow across the eye to the tear ducts, located in the inside corners of each eye. Tears drain through the tear ducts and into the nose.

Watery eyes result from exposure to irritants, infections, or a blockage of your tear ducts or structural problems with the eyelids sagging so that the ducts aren’t in their normal positions. Ironically, watery eyes can result from reflex tearing when the nerves sense that the surface is too dry in people with dry eye syndrome. For many people, watery eyes get better without treatment. Your doctor may recommend treatment if watery eyes interfere with your vision or if you have other symptoms, like pain.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/12/2018.

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