Watery Eyes in Adults, Toddlers Causes, Signs & Treatments

Why do I have watery eyes or why does my right eye water so much? Is it normal when one or both eyes keep watering? Did you know that excessive production of tears medically referred to as epiphora, and has nothing related to crying?

Your eyes produce tears for purposes of washing, hydrating or keeping them moist. However, if the tears are not drained away properly, you develop these conditions. We shall in due course study causes of watering eyes, symptoms, natural relief and how to cure with various treatments.

Common symptoms and signs

Before we go to causes, find a brief description of symptoms commonly associated with eye tearing, watery eyes or overproduction of tears. So what are some of the common watery eye symptoms or signs?

Irritated Eye and Pain

Irritation and pain are usually signs of tearing that can be brought by a few physical or biological factors or due to certain conditions. One of them is infection especially caused by bacteria, or microorganisms. Irritation may also be experienced if foreign substances and matter get their way into the eyes.

A runny nose

Secondly, a runny nose may be viewed as a symptom if it occurs presently, continuously or is persistent. Running nose has a higher tendency to show in children due to cold (infection) but, when young people catch a cold, they most likely to have this problem.

Burning Sensation

Burning eyes is another sign of dry eye syndrome but may also be witnessed by people who get itchy watery eyes.


Itching as another sign of tearing may come out clearly when looking at itchiness and tearing – definitely very common with eye infections.

Eye discharges and crusting

Going on with symptoms of tearing eyes, sometimes you may notice discharge regardless of your age. What makes it very clear is when there form crusts on the base of the eyelashes, over the eyelids of one eye or both after you wake up in the morning.

Reduced Vision

Another common symptom observed would be vision problems. Reduced vision and blurred vision could occur more when you have additional symptoms like discharge.

Other usual signs to look out for are swelling, eyelids turning reddish and becoming sore.

What causes watery eyes and related symptoms

Whether it is one watery eye or both that gives you difficulty and endless suffering, you are just about to know its cause. This can be a problem for anyone. That is why it is very important to get important information causes and treatments.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

To begin, allergic conjunctivitis simply refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva (thin transparent membrane).

One is said to have an allergy or be allergic to something when their immune system reacts to certain foreign substances usually producing a negative effect. Some allergen substances can cause tearing in certain individuals only. Examples of common allergens are namely: molds, pollen, some chemicals and fumes including perfumes and dander from pets.

Meibomian gland Dysfunction, MGD

What could be causing one of your eyes (or both) to produce more tears? Is it because of a problem with these glands? The main function of these glands is to secrete oils to slow down the loss of tear film that helps in keeping the eyeball hydrated.

If that is the case then, what occurs in the case of Meibomian gland dysfunction? Well, this may result in eyes becoming sore, leading to dry patches that appear on your eye surface. As a reaction, more tears need to be produced to cater for the extra tears that are constantly lost.

Irritants, foreign bodies, and environmental factors

Irritation is another cause it. In certain circumstances, the eyes may get irritated if substances get in the eyes. They include chemical fumes, some gases (tear gas), insects, and other items such as dust, specks. When these things land in the eyes and come in contact, it gets inflamed.

What else causes this irritation and watering?

  1. Ingrown or ingrowing eyelashes,
  2. Foreign materials that accidentally get into the eyes such as specks, dust, tiny insects, et cetera.
  3. Hot weather and dry blowing wind may ignite dryness  which can lead to reflex actions. Tear glands, therefore, secrete more tears to tolerate adverse changes.
  4. Exposure to bright light and for longer durations.

Certain Eye Infections and Conditions

What infections can cause watering or the production of excess tears?

1.       Blepharitis

This is an eye condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids depending on the extent to which infection occurs. Blepharitis is caused by clogged oil glands found in the eyelids. Moreover, Mayo Clinic points out that it also may be caused by other conditions and diseases.

Some of the symptoms associated with this condition include:

  • Sticky, sore and itchy eyelids that look red,
  • Swollen eyelids,
  • Burning sensation in the eyes,
  • Loss of eyelash in severe infection.

2.       Acute Dacryocystitis/ infection of the nasolacrimal tear sac

If you have a blocked tear duct, an infection can occur within the sac. This infection is characteristic of a tender lump that blocks the tear duct and can cause discomfort.

3.       Blocked Tear Duct – sticky, crusty eyes

The third cause, (babies are exclusive) is due to this condition. What you need to know about blocked eye ducts in toddlers is that when they are born these structures are not yet fully developed and some might have a congenital blockage.

There are several causes of a blocked tear duct. In children particularly is due to congenital blockage, tumor/ tumor growths, injury or infections. Common symptoms that you should be keen to observe include the following:

  • Sticky eyes. You should see the difficulty in opening one or perhaps both (i.e. transfer of infection the already infected eye),
  • Formation of crust or crusting on the eyelids
  • Mucous-like or pus discharge,
  • Excessive tearing and watering at any time of day, in the morning or when it is cold.

Statistics have revealed that out of 5, every single newborn has a tear duct problem.

Cure and treatment

A blocked tear duct should not be a big worry because it normally goes away on its own. In the meantime, ensure that you wipe the sticky substance-using some soft cotton dipped in warm water.

However, the duration of symptoms should not go beyond 10 months. It is first prudent to take your baby to get medications to fight infections. Second could be further treatment from a specialist who can carry out a special massage technique to promote lacrimal duct flow. Other techniques meant for children are flushing, probing or dilation.

Certain Medications

According to Mayo Clinic, some medicines could trigger tearing. Examples given include; Epinephrine, drugs used in chemotherapy and certain eyedrops like Echothiophate iodide and pilocarpine, etc.

Other causes

There are numerous causes, in addition to what we have discussed as highlighted below.

a.      Ectropion – eyelids that have turned inwards

Ectropion is a condition that affects the lower eyelids of most adults – responsible for persistent and excessive tearing.

b.      Entropion or inwardly turned eyelids

Unlike ectropion, in this condition, a lot of irritation and in inflammation occur as the eyelashes rub against the surface of the eyeball. Entropion also affects more adults and old aged than children. Treating it is vital as it may result in a corneal abrasion, and blurred vision.

c.       Trichiasis

Also known for ingrown eyelashes trichiasis is characterized by eyelashes rubbing of the cornea causing pain and irritation.

d.      Keratitis

Its major causes include the herpes virus, use of contaminated lenses and water and scratchy objects. In severe infections, keratitis may develop open sores on the cornea hence corneal ulcers. A corneal ulcer may also be contributed to the poor use of contact lens, and a deficiency in vitamin A.

If it goes untreated Keratitis leads to a blurred vision due to excessive tearing or the presence of white spots on the cornea.

The rest of the causes comprises the following:

  • Chronic sinusitis,
  • A common cold which is symptomatic of a runny nose,
  • Radiation therapy,
  • Eye and nasal surgery,
  • Burns, etc.

Causes in babies and toddlers

Causes of watery eyes in babies and young children could vary. In addition to what we have looked at, find out why children have watering eyes is in the morning or any other time of the day. Tearing in toddlers and babies could be associated with a few factors which include immunity, infections, and other conditions. Why are babies likely to have this problem more often?

  • Allergies: Most allergens that cause tearing in babies are airborne – e.g. pollen grains.
  • Blocked tear ducts,
  • Infected Meibomian glands or Meibomian gland dysfunction, (MGD),
  • Blepharitis,
  • Common cold.

Excessive or persistent watery eyes in adults

Why do my eyes keep watering all day long and what causes them to water excessively? In severe occasions, (Epiphora), chronic watery eyes could result. Undoubtedly, that will be a huge concern now that it wholly disrupts your life quality. What do you need to do then? First, though, the following are most likely causes (adding to what we have had earlier).

Primary Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction

Primary nasolacrimal duct obstruction “results in either functional or physical obstruction of the drainage pathway.” [Care.american-rhinologic.org], some researchers have thought it to be brought as changes in hormone take place when children have grown up.

Autoimmune diseases

An autoimmune disease is an internal factor that involves abnormal or rapid cellular reactions that produce a harmful result. Such include vasculitis. Autoimmune diseases that lead to excessive eye watering affect more adults but are rare in children.

Infections can cause

Thirdly is to do with bacterial infection of the nasolacrimal ducts. Some strains of bacteria may attack these structures causing a lot of irritation or inflammation after which they constrict. In this way, your eyes will constantly be watering since the normal tear channeling is interfered with.

Both adults and children may fall victims to infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.

Facial Trauma, Surgery, and Scarring

If you have had facial surgery at one time and have had constantly watering eyes, your nasolacrimal ducts might have been injured or cut. A similar surgical procedure that may have caused scarring of the lacrimal system is endoscopic sinus surgery.


How does old age cause persistent eye-watering? As we grow older, our skin loses more collagen. This makes the eyelids and the thin skin around it less elastic, resulting in saggy eyelids (esp. lower eyelids). Tears easily accumulate under the eyelids and begin to flow out because of the inability of the eyelids to hold it back.

Other causes

The causes seem endless and we may not exhaust everything, namely:

  • Blocked tear duct,
  • Infections such as a cold that also causes watery eyes and a runny nose.
  • Ectropion,
  • Entropion,
  • Keratitis and corneal ulcer.

Treatment and Cure – eyedrops and medications

Treatments for watery eyes largely depends on their causes. For this reason, some medicines are meant to cure certain infections that cause this problem There are also eye drops that are helpful in relieving symptoms. Other cures include over the counter eye drops, creams, ophthalmic solutions and ointments et cetera.

We shall categorize them beginning with eyedrops, medicines and other treatments.

Eyedrops for watery Eyes due to allergies

When this problem has additional symptoms such as itching or slight redness, you may go for over the counter ones. These drops are usually not prescribed.


Examples include are:

  • Artificial tears,
  • Azelastine (Optivar)
  • Visane-A, Opcon-A Peniramine
  • Alaway,
  • Zadinton,

Prescription Eye drops

Another category is those that will be prescribed and used only under a doctor’s advice. As a cure for watery eyes, prescriptions are mostly used if the extent to which the eye infections or symptoms show a resistance and continued persistence i.e. not clearing.

Here are examples of prescriptions but don’t start using them unless you have gone for clinical consultation. (One precaution is that you should confirm not being allergic to any of the ingredients that they contain.)

  • Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion) whose concentration of active ingredients stands at 0.05%,
  • Lodaxamide,
  • Cromolyn,

Corticosteroid Eye drops

Corticosteroids are under the category of prescription brands. They are used to relieve symptoms like redness, itching that are observed in patients with watery eyes. Patients who have hay fever or allergic conjunctivitis can use them to get rid of symptoms. However, they must be used with caution, normally for a certain period of time or as your GPs/ophthalmologist may recommend.

How to get best eye drops

What are some good qualities of eye drop to treat, cure eye infections and symptoms removal? You have to consider certain factors first.

The first and foremost thing to figure out is what actually causes your eyes to water. Do you have allergies? What are conditions that may prevent you from using certain eye drops? Are there any adverse reactions or side effects after applying selected best brands? All these factors constitute prerequisites and guidelines before acquiring eyedrops.

You should get the correct advice from an ophthalmologist in determining the best allergy medicine for watery eyes. Some of the non-prescription eye drops available over the counter are safe for use. However, rely on your set of symptoms and ask your health provider to help you avoid side effects.

Allergy Eyedrops

Categorically, there are eyedrops for watery eyes used in clear signs and symptoms that are itching redness, burning sensation, brought about by allergies. You can either get them over the counter or from authorized drugstores.

Mast Cell Stabilizers

As one of the classified and approved eye drops for allergy, these ones are meant to prevent symptoms. Its mechanism may be a bit slow but sure if they are applied in advance.

Those available over the counter can be used by anyone as long as you observe all directions of usage. Whereas, prescription eyedrops should be used only if you are allowed by a specialist.

Antihistamine allergy eye drops

Secondly, antihistamines are quite effective because of the ability of ingredients to block or counter effect histamine that is released after your eyes come in contact with allergic substances.

Some of the best antihistamine eyedrop medicines are prescribed. These include hydrochloride active ingredient drops, e.g. Azelastine.

Topical Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are meant for the short-term and are very effective. If watering is accompanied by inflammation, reddened and burning eyes, these drops can get rid of it quickly.

Moreover, if you have symptoms that indicate severity (chronic allergic conjunctivitis), your doctor should prescribe corticosteroid drops or ointments. However, if the doctor’s instructions state that you have to use them for a specific duration is certainly due to harmful side effects.

Medicines, Pills, liquid Oral drugs

The second option apart from drops for watery eyes is the use of medicines or drugs where applicable. Patients who are allergic to ingredients (e.g. pseudoephedrine) in certain medicines can take oral drugs under prescription. They include:

  • Co-amoxiclav, Clarithromycin, etc.
  • Other oral pills and liquid medicines that may have a combination of ingredients are Cetirizine, Loratadine, Fexofenadine just to list a few.
  • Oral corticosteroids such as Prednisonole, Prednisone, etc.


For individuals who have tried all the procedures in trying to cure watery eyes but symptoms still persevered, you may need to talk to an ophthalmologist or doctor. Surgery is most appropriate for adults who have shown little change to respond to other treatments. This procedure is effective in containing cases of blocked tear ducts that cause excessive tearing.

One of the surgical procedures includes Dacryocystorhinostomy/ (DCR). Using this procedure involves an initial incision whereby a small bone from your nose is cut out externally. Even though, patients may experience nosebleeds and swelling on their noses.

How to stop, relief & natural watery eyes home remedies

Symptoms like itching, burning or irritation for sure maybe bothering your eyes. But you can do something in an effort to get relief and feel better. We are now going to offer you more tips to stop, avoid and prevent watery eyes at home.

Wash your eyes and Get medical assistance

When your eyes are filled with dust, small physical or insects try to clean them using enough water (avoid tap water). As a rule, always ensure that your hands are clean whether you are attending to yourself or to an eye patient.

CAUTION: Never use any tools to remove any foreign object. Instead, quickly visit the nearest eye emergency center/call an eye expert.

Avoid Rubbing

It is not advisable to rub eyes even if you feel itching. Constant rubbing of eyes only worsens symptoms.

Eye compress

If you feel your eyes are irritated and have reddened, do a warm compress to kill it. An advantage of applying warm compress is to aid the removal of crust that gets stuck after discharge due to infections. It soothes the watering too besides being a simple procedure to help clear tear ducts.

You need a soft clean piece of cloth and warm water to do it.

  • Dip your cloth and rinse excess water. Close your eyes and lie down.
  • Gently apply on both eyes as you with until the warmth disappears.
  • Repeat it as necessary but don’t do too much. That is all.

Avoid all sources of allergens

Since a substantial portion of watery eyes cases is contributed by allergy substances materials, you may find it very useful if you decide to stay away. Extra care for your loved little ones is encouraged because of their vulnerability to the effects of allergens. So clean your compound and areas surrounding the home.

Use Protective sunglasses

Now, at times you may be forced to use sunglasses if you must be outdoors. Wipe them before you wear them.

Use of eye makeups or costumes

Some eye beauty products have ingredients of allergens that may enter your eyes and cause irritation and tearing. Why don’t you stop applying them? But if they have no effect, don’t share it with anyone else. (Sharing may transfer viruses/bacteria from infected individuals.)