TEARING IN ADULTS

Excessive tearing can be caused by many factors including environmental irritants such as wind, smoke and fumes, infections, allergic responses, foreign object in the eye, ingrown eyelashes, blockage of the tear duct, eyestrain, emotion, and even ‘dry’ eyes. Yes, tearing can result from the eye being dry and not producing enough tears. In this case, the eye tries to remedy the problem by producing too much moisture, causing the excess to run down the cheek instead of draining through the tear ducts.

Tears are designed to cleanse and lubricate the surface of the eye. Tears drain through a small opening in each lid and run through a small canal and down into the nose. This is why people get runny noses whey they cry. If the drainage system becomes blocked, tears will not drain properly and the person may experience excessive tearing.

To determine the cause of excessive tearing, your ophthalmologist may do several tests including measuring the amount of tears produced or irrigating fluid through the tear duct and into the nose to rule out blockage of the system.

Treatment depends on the cause of tearing. Lubricating drops may be recommended for treatment of dry eyes. An ingrown eyelash may simply be removed. If the drainage system is blocked and does not respond to irrigation, surgery may be needed to open or bypass the blockage. Sometimes the exact cause cannot be determined and, unfortunately, the problem cannot be solved.