Abnormal Tearing

Abnormal Tearing

What is abnormal tearing?

Tears keep the eyes moist and healthy, and help flush out foreign substances that may enter the eye. Tears are produced by tiny glands located just above each eye. As more tears are created, excess tears drain into the nasal cavity through small tubes called tear ducts.

When the tear ducts become blocked or clogged, tears build up on the surface of the eye leading to abnormally watery eyes. In this state, the eyes can become swollen, inflamed and even infected.

Tear duct blockages can occur in three locations:

  • In the tear duct in the eyelid - this is known as canalicular obstruction
  • In the tear duct on the edge of the eyelid - known as punctual stenosis
  • In the tear duct in the nose - known as nasolacrimal duct obstruction

What causes abnormal tearing?

Possible causes of abnormal tearing in adults include:

  • Allergies
  • Certain medications
  • Nasal conditions
  • Sinus conditions
  • Infections
  • Abnormal growths
  • Tumors
  • Injuries to the tissue or bones near the eyes
  • Inflamed or swollen lining of the tear ducts

What are the symptoms of abnormal tearing?

The first symptom of a blocked tear duct is excessive tearing. This can range from wet-looking eyes to tears that constantly stream down the face. If the root cause is an infection, the affected eye or eyes will most likely be inflamed. Excessive tearing can also lead to a build up of mucous in the corners of the eyes. This can cause the eyelids to stick together, making it difficult to blink.

How is abnormal tearing treated?

If the tear duct blockage is due to allergies, medication or an infection, then abnormal tearing can usually be reversed without surgery. Otherwise, surgery may be needed to remove the blockage.

Temple's ophthalmologists offer a variety of surgical treatments for every kind of tear duct blockage. Learn more about abnormal tearing treatment at Temple.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple ophthalmologist, click here or call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED (1-800-836-7536).