7 Disturbing Causes for Eye Watering Which Demand Your Attention Instantly

An eye getting wet by the dripping water - causes for eye watering.
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The findings of a study conducted by Rendeza (2018) revealed that 68.64 percent of the participants would rather cry privately than 27.27 percent of them who preferred a need for a crying shoulder but privately and admitted the awkwardness that comes with crying in public.

So, here comes the obvious explanation that people feel the shame of expressing emotions (especially negative ones) as they’ve always been advised to lock them up because society links them with weakness and it’s especially the display of emotions by men that is frowned upon. The study reaffirmed the idea that women cry more with 88 percent of participants claiming that. This article looks at the possible causes for eye watering in humans.

This is how crying is cool

An article lists how hiding emotions can cost you your life. Our emotions emerge from the midbrain which means we can’t control them as that part works subconsciously. But if we don’t process them well, the result may be pent-up feelings, thus anxiety, stress, headaches, and heart and sleep problems.

Treating your negative emotions just as emotions and accepting them as important parts of your life as positive ones is crucial for your overall soundness.

220 randomly selected people (16 to 19 years old) contributed their views to this study on the importance and effects of emotional crying which included 159 females and 61 males from the different areas of the Philippines. The study was conducted using a questionnaire designed by the researcher and further proved by the focused GD of 20 participants.

96.36 percent of them found shedding tears to be positive and 65.45 percent of them felt light-hearted after crying.

A woman looking upset.
By: Nikolay Hristov on Unsplash

Crying is an emotional response and our reality isn’t far away from emotional turbulence. Crying helps in –

  • Protecting the cornea from foreign particles.
  • Preventing blurred vision.
  • Get rid of stress hormones.
  • Emitting oxytocin and endorphins that reduce pain.
  • Building up connections and even nurturing them.

So, crying isn’t a sign of weakness anymore, instead, it makes you as fit as a fiddle, thus acceptable if this is what you strive for. Thus you can cry freely now.

But not every time, there’s a downside to it too.


When you cry naturally, it’s fine. However, when your eyes get filled with excess tears and the same roll down your cheeks with or without any outside stimulant, it’s called eye-watering.


“Epiphora applies to excessive tearing caused by excessive tear production or secondary to poor drainage”, as per the National Library of Medicine.

Causes for eye watering may range from dry eyes to blocked tear ducts (parts of the tear drainage system) among others.

Tear system

How tears work

A 3d design of a brain.
By: Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash

The salty droplets help balance the moisture in your eyes, keep dust away, and help you cope with different emotions.

So, the anatomy of the lacrimal system goes like this. Tears’ secretion and drainage function through the tear system comprising the tear gland with accessory glands and nasolacrimal channel comprising puncta, canaliculi, lacrimal sac, and nasolacrimal duct.

You have a lacrimal gland set on the lateral orbit above the upper eyelid of each eye. The lacrimal glands produce tears which then reach out to the surface of the eye passing through the tear duct.

Some amount of the watery layer dries out and the rest gets infused by the puncta – the small openings in the upper and lower eyelids in the inner corner of the eyes. Then the lacrimal sac collects them through the canaliculi. Lastly, the nasolacrimal duct receives the same to end the drainage process.

Puncta’s failure to manage the amount of fluid, excess tearing by the tear glands, or blockage in tear ducts cause watery eyes when tears flow over your face.

Tear film

Tears cover the front eye area to protect it from foreign bodies acting as allergens and are composed of three layers namely, mucin, aqueous, and lipid. The inner layer, mucin helps the tears spread and stay evenly on the surface, the watery layer that is present in higher amounts keeps the eyes hydrated, and the outer oily layer helps the tears stay at the surface of the cornea.

The tears containing electrolytes, proteins, and water with other substances nurture the cornea with oxygen, manage the even eye surface for easy light refraction, and protect the eye from foreign objects.

Types of tears

There are 3 types of them –

Basal: the basic tears you have in your eyes right now through which your eyes feel moisturized and secure.

Reflex: these are the result of an outside trigger such as the tears your eyes produce while cutting onions.

Emotional: the tears you produce out of an emotional response like watching a sad or happy ending of a movie.

Causes for eye watering

1. Itchy eyes

Itchy eyes can lead to watery eyes. Your eyelids can be itchy too causing them to be swollen. Dry eyes, atopic keratoconjunctivitis (swelling in the eye area), seasonal allergies, and eye irritation from contact lenses can be the reason your eyes get itchy.

2. Tear duct obstruction

A study was performed to know the causes and treatment in epiphora patients concerning age and gender.

The study assessed the history of 237 epiphora patients with an average age of 56 between Jan 2005 and Dec 2009 which included 130 females and 107 males.

Females and younger ones were more prone to the lacrimal obstruction which was the most common cause of epiphora as well in 46 percent of patients. Elderly people were more likely to be affected with epiphora with eyelid malposition as the main cause.

3. Problems related to the conjunctiva

The conjunctiva is a thin transparent layer covering the entire front eye except for the cornea and forms the inner layers of the upper and lower eyelid.

Inflammation in the conjunctiva can cause conjunctivitis or pink eye. It can result from different factors such as dry eyes, allergies, or bacteria. Viral infections in the conjunctiva (emerging from bacteria) can be caused by the germs in case of dry eyes which lack antibodies that tears generate. Watery eyes are one of its symptoms.

In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, allergens like dust and pollen may induce swelling of the conjunctiva (which happens due to the release of histamine to repel allergens) and more tears.

4. Dry eye

A close-up of an eye.
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How contradictory it may sound, but the dry eye condition may cause your eyes to water more. However, the liquid that the glands produce in this condition may not be beneficial as it only consists of the watery layer which evaporates quickly making the eye prone to dry eye conditions. On the other hand, the tears that protect your eyes are made up of the right balance of water, mucus, and oil.

This condition is also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca which may result mainly from aging and long screen time habits. The kind of tears the gland produces in this condition can lead to itchiness, inflammation, and redness making way for too many tears.

Suggested Reading: Dry Eyes Allergies – 7 Shocking Causes

5. Blepharitis

This eye infection may leave your eyes itchy and dry and causes dandruff-like particles on your eyelashes. It can also induce watery eyes besides other symptoms like itchiness and burning sensation which can be treated by maintaining proper hygiene and taking medical advice if needed.

6. Trichiasis

The condition can cause your eyelashes to grow inwardly, thus the ingrown eyelash teases the eye resulting in irritation, redness, and watery eyes.

7. Stye

A stye can be formed on the inner or outer part of the eyelids due to the blocked oil glands and bacteria. That is a painful lump forming on the corners of the eyelids. A stye closely resembles a chalazion that occurs inside of the eyelid through the clogging of the oil (meibomian) glands. Styes can trigger watery eyes and eyelid problems like swelling.

Other causes to develop watery eyes may include –

  • Environmental factors like dusty weather, foreign objects, or pet dander.
  • Allergies from make-up.
  • Chemotherapy drugs.
  • Certain eye drops.
  • An eye injury.
  • Misplacement of the eyelid after surgery.
  • Bell’s palsy and Sjogren’s syndrome.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), “watering eyes are common” and only need treatment by an eye specialist if the condition interferes with your daily life.

Treatment of the causes for eye watering

Treatment depends on what causes watery eyes. Mostly, watery eyes resolve on their own. In severe cases, consulting an eye doctor is necessary. The doctor may perform an eye exam and ask you to –

  • Follow the general eye care.
  • Distance away from gadgets emitting bright light at intervals.
  • Use prescription eye drops or artificial tears for treating dry eyes or allergy medicines.
  • Opt for a small surgery in case of a blocked tear duct.
  • Use cold or warm compresses on the affected area using a wet towel.

Conclusion with some fun facts about tears

A portrait of a man crying.
By: Charlotte Knight on Unsplash

1. Tear production decreases as you age.

2. When you cry too much, your lacrimal drainage system finds it hard to soak all the teardrops, and they overflow or even find their way through your nose.

3. Emotional tears are specific to humans and may have a huge role in forming relations.

4. Newborns don’t produce tears for a few weeks or months crying because of partially or fully blocked tear ducts.

5. Questioning the stereotype, a survey of 2,004 Americans revealed that men usually cry more than women, which is about 48 times a year than 36 times for women.



While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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