Is Dry Eye the Cause of Excessive Tearing? Not Always!

When the eyes feel wet and teary, it can be frustrating. On the one hand, the eyes must be adequately lubricated. Without proper moisture in the form of a healthy tear film, the eyes feel gritty and they look red. On the other hand, when moistness forces you to have to wipe your eyes frequently throughout the day, every day, you may wonder what is going on behind the scenes. We’ll explain what could be happening here.

The tearing process begins in the glands of the eye. These glands produce oil, water, and mucus that join together and spread across the eyes when we blink. When a person has dry eye, there is often an imbalance in the tear film; too little mucus or oil. Without sufficient emollient content, the watery part of the tear film evaporates too quickly and the eyes are chronically dry, which leads to the overproduction of tears and that frustrating feeling of wetness. This is “excessive tearing” the dry eye way. True excessive tearing is the problem of tears falling down the cheeks.

In a normal tearing process, the tear film is spread across the eye when blinking. Blinking also allows tiny ducts in the upper and lower eyelids to pick up tears and send through a relatively complex drainage system. These ducts, called the canaliculus, may not be able to pick up tears due to a blockage. They may be blocked by excess conjunctiva (the clear film that covers the white of the eye) or due to the position of the eyelid. Without drainage through these small ducts, tears will exit the eye over the skin.

Once the tears are picked up by the canaliculus ducts, they drain into the lacrimal sac, and then to the nasolacrimal duct near the nose. This duct may be blocked or narrow, causing a backup of not only tears but also of discharge. When the nasolacrimal duct is not functioning properly, a person may experience eye infections as well as excess discharge in the form of crust on the eyelids when waking up in the morning.

Excessive tearing can affect your day to day life but it does not have to. Our physicians have advanced training to accurately diagnose the cause of excessive tearing and develop a plan to correct the problem. For friendly care from an experienced team, call our St. Louis office at 314-567-3567.

Posted in: Tearing Problems

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St. Louis, MO 314-567-3567