Watery eyes and Dry Eye Disease – why does my eye doctor tell me to use artificial tear drops when my eyes are watering excessively?

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Miss Elizabeth D. Hawkes

February 24, 2021

Closed eyelid macro closeup with a teardrop on eyelashes running down

The medical term for watery eyes is epiphora. There are many causes, due to either tear overproduction or insufficient drainage. Here, we discuss overproduction.

Blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelid margin, results in clogging of the oil producing Meibomian glands. When oil secretion is disrupted, the surface of the eye becomes exposed and irritated. This results in a reflex increase in tear production and therefore watering. Dry eye is a reduction in the ability of the eye to produce or maintain adequate tears. We need tears to protect the eye and maintain good vision. For these reasons, lubricating eye drops (artificial tears) are a first line treatment for watery eyes associated with dry eye disease.

Miss Hawkes gives her top tips for managing dry eye disease associated with excess watering.

  1. Place a hot (shower temperature) flannel or cotton pad onto the closed eye for 3 minutes, followed by firm massage of the eyelids to help unclog the Meibomian Glands.
  2. Fully remove eye makeup at the end of the day to help the Meibomian Gland orifices stay open.
  3. Contact lenses can reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the front of your eyes and increase dryness. Give your eyes a break from time to time and have glasses days.
  4. Regular VDU screen breaks. Screen use subconsciously reduces your blink rate and can worsen symptoms of dry eye.
  5. A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the symptoms of dry eye.
  6. Lubricating eye drops are an excellent option for managing dry eye symptoms. There are many different drop types. It is best to consult an eye specialist first to establish the cause, and therefore determine which lubricant is best for you.
  7. Stop smoking – smokers are twice as likely to have dry eye syndrome. Smoking also increases the risk of many other serious eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
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