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Say goodbye to watery eyes

Watery eyes can affect anybody at any age. Babies under the age of 1 year old often have watery eyes. This is due to the tear drainage duct being closed at birth, but in the first year of life, the duct opens up spontaneously and the tears start draining. Gentle massage, in a downwards motion, along the skin on the side of the nose - starting at the inner corner of the eyelid - can help to open the tear drainage duct more quickly. If after the age of 1 year, the wateriness is still a significant issue, then it is possible to gently probe the tear duct to open it up.

For children and older adults, there can be a number of factors that contribute towards watery eyes. If itching is a significant factor associated with the wateriness, then there may be an allergic component to the problem. A local pharmacist will be able to recommend an appropriate eye drop to treat the allergy which in turn should reduce the wateriness. If grittiness or soreness of the eyes is a significant factor, this suggests a dry eye situation. Paradoxically, a dry eye can also be intermittently watery and a pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable drop regime to treat this.

If the eyelid margins look red, with either tiny dry flakes or oily droplets on the lids and eyelashes, then blepharitis may be responsible. This can be treated with regular warm compresses and eyelid cleaning with special wipes or solutions available from many opticians and chemists. This treatment should be continued for several weeks.

If, after all these treatments have been considered, there is no improvement in the wateriness then a visit to an ophthalmologist would be helpful. An ophthalmologist will check the eyes and eyelids to make sure that any allergic, dry eye and blepharitic problem has been fully treated before moving on to other considerations such as checking for any laxity in the eyelids, ruling out narrowing of the drainage openings or flushing the tear ducts with saline. Lastly, investigations such as scans of the tear duct might be required to investigate a possible blockage of the tear duct. if the tear ducts are blocked then an operation may be necessary to reduce the wateriness.

Remember that this advice is a general overview of the causes of wateriness. your situation may differ from the conditions mentioned, so if your wateriness shows no sign of improving or if there are other, less common features, associated with the problem such as lumps or swellings around the eyelids, bleeding from the eye or nose or a significant nasal discharge, then you should seek prompt help from your family doctor who can arrange a referral to an ophthalmologist.

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